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Please , believe. It's worth it

“Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work…” - A.Einstein

I have recently read an article which was debating if it is worth working with children that you, as a music teacher, think are not talented enough and how to break the news to their parents. It shocked me how very easily we judge a young person and even allow ourselves to give a 'nice' advice sounding like 'this is not your thing but I am sure you will be amazing at something else' not even thinking of what are we taking away from a very young human being.

Of course all teachers like to work with pupils who learn fast and are very disciplined. But let's be honest, how many of us, now full grown adults was a perfect example of a student?

People are different and we tend to have different set of skills. Some are very good at writing stories other are amazing with numbers and some have brain where creativity has no limit. But as the school system has taught us, we all need to have a basic knowledge of things even if they are not 'our thing'. Personally I have never been an amazing mathematician but being able to calculate a sale discount and my tax return by myself saves a lot of money and time.

In early childhood the brain is making a lot of new connections. There is still a chance that even if you are not good at something when you are 6, you will excel at it when you are older when different bits and pieces will fall on its place.

We tend to be very strict with children from very early on. They need to sit at school for somewhere between 6-8h, 5 days a week, listening about Math, Science, Languages. I would lie if I would say that I know exactly how many hours of Math they have a week but I would assume that somewhere around 5h. And even if they are struggling no one says to them, 'well maybe a math is not your thing you should just leave it'. No, we demand that the mathematical knowledge is on a certain level to pass the tests. We believe that mathematic should be a part of general knowledge because of its everyday use and we believe that this can be achieved by hard work. Not naturally given talent.

So why do we not believe in hard work when it comes to music? Because it is creative subject? Because you need to be 'talented' to do it?

An average child has an approximately half an hour of music/instrumental lessons a week. At home music is usually not taken as seriously as other subjects, because it is a hobby, enjoyment, so the amount of time you spend doing your math homework is probably 5 times as long as you practice your instrument. And yet we somehow expect that a child will be good at playing its instrument. If there is enough of talent of course. But if they are not good at it the reason is lack of talent, not the lack of invested time.

I am well aware that 98% of my students will never be professional musicians. And if I am completely honest I am very happy for them because it is not an easy business to be in. But I believe that you should do everything you do to the best of your ability and that learning from a young age that success is just a fancy word for a big time investment and discipline would benefit a young person to develop into responsible and hard working adult. Of course at the end of the day choose the things you enjoy and you are good at (not necessarily in this order) but most of the time if we are good at something, we do enjoy it.

So why should you keep having music/instrumental lessons even if there is no signs of you or your child becoming the next Mozart?

Because playing a musical instrument demands an amazing level of stamina, discipline, concentration, reading and communicating in the most universal language that world has. And that is just the analytical part of your brain, the other side which takes care of creativity will be exposed to a completely new world that you can create for yourself, like reading a book or watching a movie but you are the director, actor and the editor. Coordination between your limbs will improve, you will be able to develop higher spacious awarness of yourself and most importantly, learn how to connect your brain with the rest of your body.

Playing a piece of music on an instrument is like solving a crossword in a foreign language while playing Whac-A-Mole with your fingers.

A good news is, for all the above you don't need to be 'good' at it. You just need to try your hardest and the development will follow.

So please believe. Believe in the improvement which comes through hard work that the pupil AND teacher put into lessons and learning process. Teach younger generations that working towards your best self is the best life investment they could make and its well worth doing.

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