Say the magic words: “Please”, “Thank you”, “I’m sorry”, “How can I help”? These have always been considered standard magic words at my house. I would like to suggest to you there could actually be a few more.
If you listen carefully to the unspoken language your friends and students use, you may learn a great deal by simply watching their reactions, and feeling your own.
Let’s start by taking an inventory of your own personal dialogue. What was the last phrase you remember hearing about yourself from someone you admire? Go ahead, take your time. Was it positive or negative? How did these words affect you? Kind of like a magic wand, right? Poof!
Are you like me … do you hear these words many times in your mind? That’s sort of the effect a magic spell has on someone. Whether it be positive or negative, it can actually magnetize them or change their perception of their own reality. Most of us tend to give a great deal of weight to the words others use about us, particularly if they come from someone we respect. How about your words…. when was the last time you went out of your way to give feedback to someone else?
How did that go? Do you think you were honest? Or were you a bit harsh? Were the words you spoke useful and honest… helpful and kind? Maybe, you didn’t even comment because you didn’t want take the time. Does this make you wand to think about the last student you taught? (pun intended!) I’m going to suggest that even if you don’t give a reply, the other person still heard you! Your feedback was actually saying “I’m not interested enough to notice you.” Not noticing is quiet. It’s passive. It may even be preferable to the ever popular “Welcome to Wanda’s Wonderful Wish You-Would-have-Worked-Well” practice page of notes. Guess what though…. you’re not really doing your student a favor. Let me explain what I mean.
I have found that the power of every lesson begins with your words, and even more importantly the effort you put mentally put into choosing them carefully.
So, let’s get to the point here. What do your words mean? In my studio, I strive to “Say what I mean, and mean what I say.” I take this a step further and I live this way. I believe that I should be the same person at work as I am in my private life. Then I truly resonate AUTHENTICITY. Nothing to hide here. Of course I’m not perfect. I do try to find the positive in each student. I do try to focus on the great aspects of the lesson because building self-esteem is SO important.I really appreciated the instructors I have worked with that gave me this gift.
I was lucky enough in my University days to attend a lecture given by Dennis Alexander in which he stressed the point of planting the seed within the student to meet “OUR EXPECTATIONS”. It’s amazing, as I’ve instilled this advice in my pupils over the years I’ve watched them reach to new heights. When I tell them they will become one of my best performers, or one of the best counters I’ve ever met, guess what magic happens over the years? They grow into exactly what they believe I expected they could become! There is no place for anything but useful constructive criticism in the teaching field.
I’ve even been judged in competitions where judges were less than helpful and said things like “You’ll play this piece much better when you’re 35”. Well, this criticism was not particularly helpful to me at the time as I was only in the 9th grade. Now that I am 50 I find this a hilarious comment. One because I still remember it and two because the judge who said this to me actually felt so bad about the criticism years later that she called me on the phone and took me to lunch to apologize. (Apparently she felt worse than I did! We are very close friends now and I still love her dearly!)
The moral of this short article is this: your words can and will be a creative force, even a MAGIC WAND for good in the minds of those you teach. You speak what you create, and decide if you are helpful or hurtful.
What musical magic can your words make?
9 PianoMastermind Advanced @18.00 (3 pages)