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Grit in music education

I’m reading Angela Duckworth’s book called Grit.

It’s clear that she’s incredibly passionate about the subject. Throughout the book she talks about how grit plays a role in many different disciplines and subjects. Her passion and curiosity got me thinking about what grit means to music education.

In looking at my own life as a concert pianist and now at my students, I can say that grit is one of the most important aspects of success. If we use her definition of grit as the combination of perserverence and passion, it is pretty clear that grit will make or break a student learning any instrument.

“Five times in a row!”

When my students hear this they know it’s time to dig deep. Repeating a section and focusing on the smallest details can be mentally taxing, but I make them sustain that focus until they can accomplish that goal. For most of them, they hate every minute of it until they get it.

“Yes! You did it five times. Excellent.”

(Pause)

“Now all we need is to add this…”

It’s in the small space between those two phrases that the student is gleaming with pride and accomplishment.

I’ve always considered my job as a teacher as keeping students in a constant state of “you’re almost there, try again.” As child developers we shouldn’t do it any other way.

What would you have wanted your teacher to do for you?

JT

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