Monday, 27 January 2020



For a large part of my life I've been a teacher.
Aside from explicitly introducing ideas and providing demonstration and instruction, a large part of that role is to be an ENCOURAGER.
Acknowledging achievement is not about perfection, it is about growth.
Perfection might happen but growth is the pathway. 

All learners have to go through a process before they achieve a good product.
As a youngster I realized fairly early on that I wasn't going to get a free ride or praise for nothing.
I came from a time when you didn't get a participation award.

I don't need a pat on the back for every effort I make but I was fortunate to have an excellent first teacher who kept track of my progress systematically. That was as close to praise as I got.

As a kid learning music it was pretty tough trying to get better while sharing a room with 2 brothers,  big brother saying "shut up" and whacking me. It was far from a supportive induction to a musical career. It wasn't a bad childhood, it just wasn't what some people get in terms of praise and support.

As an adult I was dirty when my partner commented I sounded bad.  A softer approach might have been to quietly say " that is why we practice, you are listening to the process, not the product."
It would have been the smart thing to say and much kinder. There are diplomatic ways to respond to criticism.

Most of the people we get to see or hear singing and playing music have actually worked for at least a few years on developing their art.
In fact most music we hear has been worked over in studios where the best of multiple performances has been chosen for presentation and even then parts have been worked over and corrected.

The audience sees the “product” of several years work and training, maybe even 25 years or more of practice and refining skills.

Anybody watching you at work on your music will see  mistakes and endless repetition to get something right.
One small piece of music might take a week of practice to get right, so family or friends get to listen to (suffer) what looks like 98 % failure.

They sometimes thoughtlessly say “You can’t sing”  or "You can’t play !"

Maybe you’ve been told this by someone, even someone who loves you.

Why people do this is because they haven’t learned that what they are seeing is the process, not a final product or a published work.
They are failing to see that you are trying to work something out, and for this, if they love and care about you,(or consider themselves a teacher) they could use some help to develop the language of support.
You might respond by saying " I am a beginner, and practice is about building skills over time."

Although they might not  “get it” just yet, be patient with them and take some of your own light into the world.
Teach them how to be good supporters through explaining the work needed before the success shows through.

Realize that sometimes you need to carry your own light to get you through those situations where your friends, family and sometimes even teachers have not the language skills to support your efforts.
It is far easier to criticize (or present a very correct solution) than to do something right.
There are many who have made it their habit, even a profession to be critics.

You might be able to teach them a better way to support and encourage a society which helps us all become better people.
Don’t let others negativity and judgments be your guide as to how you should be running your own life.

Any parent or teacher that reads this might feel that they have at least sometimes slipped in their duty to use language that is helpful, not destructive.
Supportive language is not about false praise. It is about recognising the small steps that pave the way to progress. Each small step is a building block to the next achievement.

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