What an unpopular word I am teaching my students!


My own definition for my students is “to keep on trying and not give up.”

Perseverance is critical to achieving excellence, and it is an important trait for anyone to learn.  Natural talent will get a performer (or athlete, or business person) only so far; perseverance is what leads to excellence.

I often inherit students from other methods who have never really learnt to read notes.  Particularly for boys, it seems much easier to hear something and reproduce it, than to take the time to read each individual note.  I do understand that taking the time to learn to read music can be frustrating, but I would like to train independent learners who will be able to play for fun, from a score.

For those students not confident with reading the music, please persevere!  It will take a while the first time, but stick with it!  The second time will take slightly less long, and the third time less again.  It will take effort and work, but the rewards are amazing.

Laura Sessions Stepp says “Competence is not easily fostered in a society that values the shortcut, the quick fix, and just getting by.  There are many distractions today, perhaps more than at any time in history, pulling adolescents away from the sustained effort that is required to do anything well, whether it be building a bookcase or playing Debussy’s ‘Clair de Lune'” (from ‘Our last best shot: Guiding our children through early adolescence’).

We are definitely going against the grain in aiming for excellence, but why settle for anything less?  What can be the satisfaction in a mediocre performance?  I am interested in children who achieve to the best of their own ability, and I am trying to provide the tools to do so.

My favourite app at the moment is My Note Games, which is quite inexpensive and comes with sound effects of children chanting the correct note name, and a tinkly gold medal if you play the notes correctly.  With the Olympics taking place in London as I write, it’s a well-timed app that is now a favourite of every child in our school, as they seek to play the correct notes quickly enough to receive a gold medal, rather than a silver for slower performances, or the dreaded bronze for a mistake!

Whatever it takes, I am trying to foster perseverance in the pursuit of individual excellence and independence, and I know that when the students start to do the detective work, follow the clues, and read the notes, that satisfaction and pride will follow.