As stated in the opening sentence of my previous article on failure, “I do not shield my students from failure”. If they are doing something incorrectly, I tell them. If they continue to do it incorrectly, I show them. If they still persist, I continue to tell and show them, however, if they still do nothing to change their approach, I wait for them to fail, catastrophically; this is important, after all there is only so much we can do as teacher.
Sometimes, we need to fail catastrophically before we accept our current efforts are ineffective; in these cases, then, and only then, can we then find a more-efficient or less-flawed method. This is unfortunate as it can waste time; in some instances, years, which can make adapting to new methods difficult. Returning to ‘Sally’, from my previous article, if the door was locked on her first visit, and the original option never given, ‘Sally’ would have had no other choice than to find the ‘main-entrance’, and not persist in using the ‘side-entrance’.
In lessons, this solution is given as advice explaining how an action will eventually evolve into failures at later stages of development. I make a concerted effort to catch them early, closing off the course of action before the negative habit sets in. More often, than not, this perceived minor failure is deemed acceptable in contrast to, larger, more impactful, failures at later stages.
In some cases, this feedback is taken as a direct assault on the person; which is another common misconception. The failure always relates to the action pursued, not the person carrying them out. Fail faster and earlier in the process, but most importantly, learn from it. In order to learn, we need to take responsibility for our actions.
Dylan completed his music training with honours at Colchester Institute, where he studied piano with Australian pianist Lesley Young, and composition with British composer Dr Mark Bellis. While studying, in 2009, Dylan won Colchester Institute’s Canon Jack Award for Solo Piano adjudicated by Andrew Ball. A composer, promoter, and advocate of contemporary classical music, Dylan joined the membership of Colchester New Music in 2014.
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