Avoiding errors vs. achieving excellence – Part I

One of my first blogs on Oclef was a message that I sent to my students before a competition. You can read it here – The Perfection of Pursuit

What I work to make clear to my students in every opportunity is that mistakes and errors are not the problem. The problem is almost always maintaining the correct focus or mindset.

Do your students fear making mistakes? Or are they more focused on creating excellence in their music?

Perspective is everything.

I think this is the one big differences between most “successful” students and “failing” students in music education.

So how can you help students aim towards the more productive and positive mindset of “achieving excellence”?

The words you say and actions you take during lessons, in talking with parents and at recitals will condition students to think a certain way. Is there one right way? No, but there are definitely ways that promote negative perspectives.

After a student finishes jplaying, what is usually the first thing you say? I try my very best to point out something good or even outstanding about their playing. Once this baseline praise has been stated, I feel like I can safely talk about the 35 areas to improve.

One rule that I keep as a habit is what I say at recitals. No matter how bad a performance is, defer all detailed comments to the lesson. “Glad you played today – I enjoyed hearing you. We’ll talk the improvements in your lessons.” Be authentic about it, but really do whatever to avoid constructive feedback – it never goes well.

Part II coming later this week…


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