Saturday, January 23, 2010

Parents: instruments: listen! Part 1.

If you're over me ranting, go away now. If your child learns an instrument or you know someone who does, read this.

Let me give you a little analogy:
You're learning to drive.
You have a bomb of a car.
It doesn't always start.

Sometimes the brakes don't work, and the accelerator doesn't always depress reliably. The steering can't work out whether or not it's power or manual, and the gears just sound weird. Like the car's about to die any second.
This is what playing a cheap (insert instrument of your choice here) is like.

Now imagine that you see your instructor once each week, for half an hour. When they get out of the car they remind you of the things you have to improve on.

In five minutes on Thursday you try to remember what they said on Tuesday. By Friday you've completely forgotten, but you drive up to the shops and, in doing so, practice all your bad habits again, because this car is hell to drive.

On the weekend it's just too busy to practice, so on Monday it's panic stations as you cram for Tuesday. Surprise, surprise. Tuesday rolls around and you're still a crap driver.

Your instructor is sad? Shocked? Resigned and disappointed? Angry? None of these are productive. You feel bad, you might promise to try and do better, but somehow, it all goes wrong again.

I'm going to bet that in the future, you will drive as little as possible, because it doesn't make anyone happy.

This is where the analogy falls down, as so few people in our society can function without their car. But bear with me. I'm trying to say that motivation is everything.

If you had a brand-new car that WORKED and was comfortable to drive, you'd learn.  If you could have a lesson every day (and therefore minimise the insidious bad habits) you'd learn. With progress and positive reinforcement a positive feedback loop is created, and referred to in the future when presented with a new skill to be acquired.
Conversely, a poor experience can easily create a mindset of incompetence and futility.

Oh, and you know how you service your car? Pay insurance, put fuel in, change the oil, buy new tyres, etc? Think of the instruments in your family like a car.


Herding Cats said...

Oh man, this analogy is great - and can apply to sooo many things.

Georgie K. Buttons said...

So true!! Loved it.

otin said...

I always thought of snow skiing that way. The proper instruction and attitude made for a fun experience. anything else was painful!

miss. chief said...

Yes! It's so true!

Madame DeFarge said...

That's why everyone should have a chauffeur. Good analogy though.