Preparation and Confidence
Years ago, a young student came into the school and told one of our teachers they had a “rule” for their class. It seems the student didn’t want to practice clapping rhythms that day. Hilarious as it was to see a four-year old making rules for the class (innocently and politely, I should add), the great part was to hear the instructor cut right to the root of the issue.
“Are you worried that you might not do a good job with the rhythms?”
It seemed at the prior lesson the teacher, student and parent had worked hard on clapping some rhythmic patterns, but at home the parent and child had both forgotten how exactly to clap the rhythms and didn't successfully practice it that week at home. (Take notes and videos on your phones folks!). The braveness of this youngster to feel unprepared for the class but to still follow through is not a commonality. Often younger students who feel this way start to resist attending the lessons, which eventually turns into resistance towards practicing at home and even towards their music lessons at large.
We all have pressure situations in our lives whether they be meetings with a boss, a pitch to potential clients, or a speech at a conference. Being a bit nervous or feeling the pressure in these circumstances is not a bad thing for most of us, it can often be turned into positive excitement. Being unprepared for these occasions, however, feels terrible: you still have the pressure, but in the back of your mind you know the outcome will not be ideal. For a younger student, going into their music class is the infantilization of our professional pressures. Even my high school students who play at an extremely high-level still admit they get nervous playing for me in their lessons.
This is one reason that the private music class presents a wonderful opportunity for our children. If they prepare well during the week, they learn that nerves are not an unhealthy thing as long as the work has been done. They develop confidence in their abilities, and a strong work ethic. This is another reason we love doing the student recitals at the school, aside from giving all the students a specific goal for the weeks leading up, it also teaches them how to deal with nerves. And the best way to deal with nerves: PREPARATION.
In closing, parents register their kids in music lessons for a plethora of reasons, similarly there are a plethora of benefits to studying an instrument, but the most important part taking classes whether they are for a beginner or expert is to practice. It seems obvious but try to get yourself or your kids in a routine of practicing everyday, even if it is just for a little bit at first. The results of consistency are amazing not just on their playing but again on their confidence, focus and work ethic!