Friday, September 16, 2011

The secret to success?

I found this article very interesting, because as a Kindermusik/Orff Schelwerk trained teacher I'm all about incremental development and the chance to experiment without risk of failure or mistakes. And this seems, at first glance to contradict this idea. But as I read further, I started to feel really good about what I do as a teacher, as a music parent. Because, see, music is one area where, while I can set it up so there's no complete failure, there's also no complete success. This is why those early songs keep recurring-the child might rock to a song as an infant, play rhythm instruments to it or move to it as a toddler, sing it as a preschooler, and play it on an instrument as an early school aged child. What's more, once they've learned the song on an instrument, they'll first work on just finding those notes in the appropriate order, and then on making sure rhythms are correct, moving on to articulations and expressive development. In each step, each successive success, each successive step builds-but at the same time, it's NEVER perfect. It never can be. So each success comes with it a corresponding "failure". Not a big one, not a total failure (although anyone who is involved in music long-term will eventually have one, or many), and maybe not even one recognized by casual listeners-but you know.

That's very different from academics-where success is reaching a pre-identified number, and it's not possible to do better than perfect, at which time you go on to the next step. Once you've got 100% on a spelling list of 10 words, there's not much else you're going to learn from those words. Once you've mastered adding 1 digit numbers, you're not going to get much out of practicing them except for maybe a little more speed. But in music, you can ALWAYS get more out of a piece. You can always extend, You can always grow. You can always do it a different way.

The same is true with other fine arts. I have yet to know an artist who is happy with a completed work for very long-they always see the next step. Dancers and actors are their own worst critics-and best teachers.  I'm not saying fine and performing arts is the only way to get this experience of success and failure simultaneously, or that it's the only way to build character-but it definitely helps, and I'm very, very honored and glad to be able to be part of it for my students.

No comments:

Post a Comment