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RCM Winter Results!
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Is having talent a matter of choice?
January 16, 2015
A music teaching studio is a music business, as well as private music education. And, music lessons should be an enjoyable and recreational experience, but also involve learning useful music skills. These principles aren’t mutually exclusive. The goals of one need not be achieved at the expense of the other.
When parents pay for after-school instruction in math, it is with the expectation that fundamental math skills will be developed and/or improved. Similarly, when they register their children for gymnastics, they anticipate that certain demonstrable skills will be acquired. So why are parents and teachers reluctant to set goals for achievement with music lessons, other than in some cases to merely set a date for taking an exam and hoping to acquire a certificate? Well, there are two main reasons:
Many people mistakenly believe that music talent is something you either have or don’t have, that existing music talent cannot be increased, and that since your music aptitude is fixed, your future success with music is pre-determined or perhaps limited in some way.
Many parents have also had painful experiences with music lessons themselves, and so while they hope their own children will succeed where they didn’t, they are afraid to set high expectations for fear that setting goals will lead to disappointment or frustration.
The truth, however, is that the words talent and skills are really synonyms, that clear goals and expectations should always be set, and proven strategies for learning should always be defined and implemented. Moreover, the key to student success in developing talent is to be found in the system itself, not the student’s pre-existing music aptitude or effort. And, with the right training system, most students can develop the music skills that we all recognize as talent whenever we see it and hear it.
The widely used Guided Self-Learning method, and the Talent CAN Be Taught system are two distinctly different approaches to learning. With the GSL method, students are expected to try to teach themselves on their own, and teachers simply monitor their students’ progress from the preceding week and assign new music for them to teach themselves the next week. Most teachers still follow this system even though little actual teaching takes place. Pointing out errors and assigning homework isn’t teaching. That’s why the GSL system has failed more than 99% of all students for as long as anyone can remember. Teachers and parents have come to accept that student lack of success is linked to a lack of music talent or insufficient commitment to practicing, unaware that it is the system itself that is flawed.
In fact, however, developing music skills doesn’t depend upon how much time and effort students spend trying to teach themselves, nor does it depend upon how much pre-existing music aptitude they already have before they begin taking lessons. The TCBT system places responsibility for student success entirely upon the requirement that good teaching resources and proven effective strategies are to be used by teachers to ensure that all key elements of training are both taught and learned, and that the student isn’t simply abandoned to sink or swim. And so, with the Talent CAN Be Taught system success can actually be guaranteed. As a result, goal-setting and planning, rather than leading to frustration and disappointment, become useful strategies for ensuring that success. In effect, with the TCBT system, successful development of music talent becomes a matter of choice, rather than a cosmic accident.