How do you help children to grow musical talent? Here are some comments on how 13 key points from the Talent Code by Daniel Coyle can be applied to growing musical talent.
1. The elite got that way through many thousands of hours of diligent music practice.
Just obeying instructions doesn’t make musical talent. We need to encourage daily, focussed music practice.
2. High repetition is necessary to gain competency in a skill.
“Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill.” Shinichi Suzuki
3. You learn the most by pushing yourself to the edge of your ability and paying attention to your mistakes so you can fix them in your music teaching practice.
This is the one thing with which I disagree. When learning a musical instrument, you will save hours of relearning, by “chunking it down” and practicing at “Practice Tempo,” the speed at which you can not get it wrong.
“If full out effort is what is always required, I have to tell you, it’s overwhelming.” Ed Sprunger, Suzuki violin teacher and child psychologist.
4. The music teaching process is often frustrating and you can’t always tell when you’re improving until you’re put to the test later.
Frustration has to be acknowledged. A barrier is a good place from which to grow, in ability and self esteem. Music practice gives countless opportunities, to learn to work past frustrations. How you help a child to leap over or go around a barrier, depends on the following:
5. A good curriculum “chunks” skills together so they are easier to learn, and the chunks get bigger as the student becomes able to handle the earlier ones.
A good music teacher, dissects the skills into doable chunks, before combining them to create a mega skill. When intelligent review of earlier pieces is part of the curriculum, a young musician will find it easier to learn new difficult repertoire.
6. Students should spend a lot of time watching masters practice and perform.
This part of the way we are programed to learn, as babies. Listening and observing are fundamental to the Suzuki method. Children listen daily to master recordings of their repertoire and have many opportunities to watch older more skilled musicians.
7. Coaches and teachers value hard work and persistence over “natural genius.”
All of the young musicians I teach, work even harder, when praised for focus and hard work. When I make a mistake and praise them for being clever, they always seem to have taken a step backwards at the next lesson.
8. A good coach establishes an emotional connection with his students so he knows when to be nice and when to push hard.
This goes without saying. A child needs to trust you and will catch you out if you are not being straight with them.
9. You can focus on specific skills by doing drills that isolate it for repeated trial-and-error.
I get much better engagement from a beginner musician, when I ask the child to say how successful they were at repeating a task.
10. Those who achieve greatness often started with a humble instructor who fostered a love for the subject.
There was a survey done on music students in the UK a few years back, which found that the most musically talented students at music college had a nurturing first teacher.
11. Those who see themselves doing an activity for a long time find more time to practice (and therefore get better) than those who only set short term goals.
There is a high dropout rate from families who “put little Johnny to the violin and if see if he has musical talent.” Those who see it as part of their children’s education have much better results.
12. Kids who feel talent can be gained through hard work have better problem-solving skills and more determination than kids who believe their intelligence or skill is inherited and unchangeable.
BEWARE. These views can be easily inculcated by teachers and parents. It is vital to praise hard work and focus, rather than musical talent and results. The brilliant child has everything to loose at the next performance. The hard worker has everything to gain including the self esteem which comes from problem solving.
“Talent is no accident of birth. In today’s society a good many people seem to have the idea that if one is born without talent, there is nothing he can do about it; they simply resign themselves to what they consider to be their fate.” Shinichi Suzuki
13. “Having fun” isn’t the primary goal of people who want to get good, though they find what they do pleasurable on some level (or at least necessary) and push through all the difficulties and challenges.
Succeeding through hard work is hugely enjoyable, especially when it is specific. A young musician needs to be reminded where all his hard work is taking him. It still helps to make a game of it whenever possible. We all learn best when we are in a positive frame of mind.
This list comes courtesy of www.aesopian.com