Learning an instrument is difficult- a lot of students quit before they even begin. Music is not an innate talent. Hard work and focus beats out “talent” and “musical genes” in all things, including music. We want our students to learn the value of hard work and, particularly, grit. The following is taken from an article on The Music Parent’s Guide and explains how music instruction teaches students grit:
“What is grit?
Grit is the result of struggle, risk-taking, determination, embracing failure, working relentlessly toward a goal, and perseverance to accomplish tough tasks. Make no mistake about it: Like talent, grit can be learned and cultivated. In my opinion, developing grit should be one of the core goals of raising and educating our children, and sadly is missing from our test-rich school culture these days.
Failure in a safe environment is how our children learn. Considering that failing is the worst thing that can happen in school (think red pens, slash marks, and standardized test scores), we need music instruction now more than ever to help our children cultivate grit throughout their K-12 education.
Here are four ways students learn grit through music — perhaps more than any other subject in school:
It takes guts to perform. Once the honeymoon is over with choosing an instrument or singing in choir, students must engage in performing, both alone and in an ensemble. And it takes some guts to “put oneself out there” for all to hear — blemishes and all — even if things aren’t going to go that well. It’s up to parents and teachers to use performance as a future motivator in order to increase the opportunities for students to build up their grit. Think of how great you would feel knowing that your child is building confidence for the tough road ahead that we call life.
With the right help from adults, children learn resilience through music study. Playing a musical instrument does not yield a lot of immediate gratification — at first. This is a new concept to our ever-connected young generation, yet it’s more crucial now than ever before that we create a culture in our schools that allows our students to embrace failure and frustration in a safe environment. Parents’ whose first instinct is to protect their child from embarrassment or setback must develop grit of their own and remember the struggles they had that led them to their successes. Teachers must constantly reinforce the concept of resilience and give students the tools to succeed as the result of some sweat equity on their part.
Initiative and perseverance are traits we want all our children to learn. Learning a musical craft helps children learn to take initiative. We are all trying to educate future leaders, and taking initiative is one of the primary determinants of leadership.
Once children begin their musical journey, they must stay focused on it. It’s this perseverance that is at the core of cultivating grit. We see it all the time: someone has a setback and overcomes it only to be stronger moving forward -- as long as they don’t quit.”
As shown above, grit is about perserverance despite adversity. In the words of, my favorite person ever, Will Smith- we must fail early, fail often, and fail forward. And your students are learning that every day in music class.