How to rewire your music students’ brains in ten words or less…
I enjoy folding my babies’ laundry. I love the teeny socks and sleepers. I love thinking about the kissable little feet that go in those socks, and the sweet cuddles from little ones in those sleepers.
This was not always the case.
Every time I saw a load of tiny clothes in the dryer, I groaned. I complained about matching a thousand mismatched socks.
But guess what?
That didn’t do me any favors. I still had to fold that laundry and put it away. And I had to do it again the next day. (Really! I wash those little dirt burgers’ clothes every. single. day.)
Eventually I thought, I am going to have to fold these clothes approximately 365 times a year or more. I can grumble and feel annoyed about that. Or I can pretend I like it.
I decided to pretend I liked it. Miraculously, somewhere around folding party number 45, I actually started to like it. Ok, ok, I started to tolerate it.
We all know that self-talk is extremely powerful. It can even affect us at the cellular level. We can use this to our advantage in our studios by modeling and encouraging positive thinking. Here are a couple ways to use this music teaching tool in your studio.
1. Model. Any time we can frame a request in a positive way, we are going to get a better reaction. Rather than saying, “Don’t squeeze your thumb” try, “I loved ____, let’s make it even better by trying it with soft, relaxed thumb.” Speak positively about your own playing, practicing, and violin experience.
2. Encourage. When you hear negative or disparaging self-talk, help the child to replace it with something actually productive. For example, I have a ten year old girl who told me, in no uncertain terms, that she hates note-reading. She hates it so much it is a huge fight to practice her note-reading at home and her reading is really suffering for it. We decided to replace that talk with three repetitions of “I LOVE NOTE-READING!” every day when it was time to practice. I know she thinks it is ridiculous, but somewhere along the line, she’s going to start to believe what she is saying.
If our students are constantly telling themselves,
“I’ll never get that shift.”
“My thumb is stiff, that’s just the way I am.”
“I’m not good at vibrato.”
Those things automatically become law. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
No matter what you do, you can’t fight what your brain now perceives as reality.
If we can teach our students how to harness their words and thoughts, and use it to actually help them, think what could happen! Cheesy? Maybe. But why not?
It could change everything.
Do you have a student whose negative self-talk is halting their progress? How do you help your students stay positive and upbeat? Share with us in the comments below.