Just a quick post today that I wanted to share.
My mom sent me this article from The Washington Post by Meghan Leahy, about how (as a parent) to handle kids who are perfectionists (really for the benefit of me, my wife, and our 4 year old daughter).
I saw some value as a guitar teacher as well.
Here’s a little story…
I’ve been teaching a 14 year old for about a year. Let’s call him Tyler.
Tyler had never really played guitar when I first started with him.
He’s super smart. Super busy. Has a ton of after school activities… Lacrosse, football, even a part-time job…. and all of the other social things that come along with being a teenager.
We started lessons and he picked everything up quickly…. until…
… we started doing some complicated versions of chords. Barre chords mostly. We were moving past the beginner stage and onto more intermediate stuff.
I could see he was struggling. I could also see that we’d been here before.
I remembered seeing this kind of frustration when we were learning some beginner open chord positions. So what did I do?
– I encouraged him. Yay!
– I reminded him of past successes! You can do it!
– I told him to keep at it!
None of it got through to him. The frustration remained, and he would say things like… “I don’t really need to know bar chords, the older chords sound better”.
I was suspicious.
We’d continue to learn, I’d continue to push, encourage, and all the usual teaching stuff. Every so often I’d find myself just empathizing with his frustration and struggle. I’d talk about my current struggles: learning difficult pieces and just not getting it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this is exactly what Meghan Leahy talks about in her piece in the post.
Of course I didn’t really understand the scope of what I was doing (in my guitar lessons). I know empathy goes along way when others are struggling, but I never really thought of using it as a teaching tool
For those of you who aren’t teachers or parents, there is still an incredibly important takeaway message here: we all struggle and progress. Sometimes it sucks (usually it sucks). Embrace the struggle.
That’s it. The struggle doesn’t get easier. But you don’t need to feel bad about feeling bad.
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