Playing With Confidence

I’ve seen so many students that are starting out get afraid of blowing in their horn for fear that something will come out that isn’t perfect. This can be a huge hurdle in the learning process. If they don’t get past this, they’re most likely not going to be interested in playing music ever again. It’s something that as a teacher, you need to make a huge priority. Students learn best when uninhibited and having fun.

So how did I go about this? I’ve tried the blunt method of just pushing through it and continuing to give them new music that they like, trying simple exercises to give them more confidence, playing with them so they’re not playing alone, and many other tactics. However, I find that the tactic that works the best for most students with a confidence issue, or even if they don’t have one, is this; Be completely straight with them.

Kindly let them know that they will probably make some crazy sounds out of their instrument. Let them know that is ok, no, not ok, GREAT! Give them, and any others in the lesson praise for TRYING! And most of all, don’t just praise them because after all, they won’t learn anything by you telling them, “Good Job!” You need to give them specific praise that focuses on what they

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did well like, “Those quarter notes were very even,” or “You held that note very steady!”

Keep it up and you’ll have those students playing with confidence in no time!



About the Author:

Noah Keitel, Co-Founder of LessonLogs, has been a musician for over 20 years. Noah has been a music educator and entrepreneur since getting his B.A. in music education from the University of Minnesota Morris. It is time that music educators around the world get state of the art tools to make lesson management easier for teachers and students. Create your free LessonLogs studio today.

One Comment

  1. Good advice Noah! “Fill the thing up!” is a phrase my students and colleagues often hear me say at the Dallas School of Music… I guess it’s the New Jersey ‘bluntness” in me. But really it should be taken on a case by case basis. Some students need blatant coaxing to get over their ‘fear’ and others benefit from a gentler approach in knowing that time is on their side if they keep at it. At DSM (Dallas School of Music) we document each lesson and send our students (and parents) an e-mail afterward. We try to include not only “what” they should practice but “how” and “why” as well. I find that some students are a little more brave when they’re at home on their own and can experiment without too many people hearing. As you mention, I think almost all students can benefit from some positive feedback. Good post! Hope all is well with you guys – cheers from DSM.

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