Music Lessons Help Develop 'Grit'
One of life's challenges is figuring out how to stick with something long enough to find success. Learning new things usually comes with its share of frustration, which can be a stopping point for many, or just a step along the way for those that learn to push through. Which one you will be depends on how much "grit" you have. Grit is defined by Merriam-Webster as "firmness of mind or spirit: unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger." Author and researcher Angela Duckworth takes it down a notch or two and defines it as "perseverance and passion for long-term goals." Check out her TED talk about grit.
Children and adults alike have a tendency to try something, then get frustrated with it. They'll move on to the next thing, never giving the time required to reach the point where they can enjoy the process and reap the benefits. Music is one of those things that many people want to learn or pursue. It's exciting to picture yourself playing like a rockstar. Maybe you see your face superimposed on one of your music idols—out on the stage crushing it. We've all been there. This kind of dreaming is helpful to ignite your interest, but you'll need more in order to continue through your journey in music
When you start out knowing nothing, everything you learn is a giant leap forward. Often the first few months will give you a sense of great progress. You'll learn the basic concepts and skills needed to play at a base level, but sooner or later, you will come to a point when the next step forward is frustrating and seemingly impossible. As you go from simple skills to more advanced ones, the time it takes to learn each gets longer. You may not see immediate progress. You may wonder if music isn't for you, and if maybe you should just quit.
This is where Grit comes in. You can help you or your child to develop the key life skill of sticking with something in order to achieve a long-term goal. One way is to prepare. If you already know and expect progress to slow down, skills to get harder to acquire, and songs to take longer to learn after the first few months, you'll be able to persevere. Point yourself toward the end goal, and focus on how cool it will be when you finally get there. Another way is to celebrate each and every small success along the way. By breaking a large goal down into smaller, attainable benchmarks and mastering each one, you'll easily see the tiny (yet important!) victories. Use these to give yourself the drive to keep going.
Here are two blog posts with strategies for pushing through frustration.
By helping you or your student learn to face frustration, and develop the grit it takes to keep pursuing goals, you'll be helping them to learn an important life skill.