Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tonal Tuesday - Please, Please, Please Make Some Mistakes

As a music teacher, one of the things I begged my students to do was to make mistakes so that I would at least look like I had something to contribute.  If they were all ready perfect, then there was no need for me to be there.  Please, please, please make mistakes.  If we all felt that way, then people would be encouraged to do many more things they never expected to try.  So why then do people NOT want to sing?

     1. Somebody laughed. It really makes me boil when I hear a child or in fact a person of any age telling a story or singing a song and the people around him are laughing.  Yes, perhaps, they think that is “cute” but the person is serious.  He or she may perceive that the performance is being criticized.  Reserve your laughter.  Think of yourself in the same situation and please DON’T laugh.  If the person is serious then be serious.  If it is intended as a joke, then laugh.  We all need to be more sensitive of each other.  I cannot tell you how many grownup people tell me they were laughed at when they were kids and so they no longer sing.
     2..  They were told not to.  When people of all ages are exploring a new skill THEY WILL MAKE MISTAKES!!!  Of that we are certain.  The fearful person watching will sometimes say “funny” things like, “You better stick to your day job.”  Or “Glad it is you making a fool of yourself.”  When someone has the guts to try singing, acting, or hammering a nail for the first time, please give them room to learn.  Too many times we expect of ourselves and others that we must GET IT RIGHT the first time.  Our discomfort must not translate into negative talk.

How can we help people to do new things?
 a) Catch them doing something right.  When a person is singing, dancing, telling a joke or otherwise trying something new, find something they are doing well and tell them.  Say something like, “I love the words to that song,” or “You really love that song, I can tell.”  You aren’t making a comment on ability but on effort!  I remember being asked to sing Climb Every Mountain, a song I had sung as the Mother Abbess in Sound of Music.  We were in the kitchen at camp.  I swung into the song and enjoyed myself.  When I got to the end (remember that the cadence is quite high), the person who had asked me to sing said, “It would have been lovely if the last note had benn in tune.”  Yup, she had wanted something to criticize.  Apparently, the rest of the song had been fine.  Now, that didn't stop me from singing but it still stings today many years later. Imagine what words like that would do to someone with less than strong self-esteem?

b)Try it yourself.  Before you criticize someone else, you do it.  Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and you will be ever so much more encouraging and kind.  

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