Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Inverse power of praise.

Here's an incredibly enlightening article from New York Magazine.
Photo: Philip Toledano for New York Magazine

If you're too busy to read it, I'll just capsulize it: praising kids for "intelligence" rather than emphasizing hard work and the ability to grow intelligent backfires. Immediately.

This is a great piece of information, and it's applicable to so many of my own internal scripts (Do I sound like I've been in therapy? Perhaps that's what I'm missing...).

Especially when preparing for auditions, I am constantly wondering if I'm as good, good enough or talented, period. Most of my teachers have worked on that aspect of my playing- they talk about being able to tell exactly when I start judging myself, and when I'm testing to see if I can play something. It's hard to focus on playing something well when you're thinking about what it will mean if you don't.

It also blends together J's assertion that encouraging kids by telling them they can work hard and do anything screws them in the end (the American Idol syndrome) and my latent belief that given enough focus they probably can do (almost) anything.

One of my best teachers said talent is only potential, and that after the first few years of undergraduate study it means just about nothing because everybody's either worked hard or quit by then. People certainly learn at different rates, but I think even that can be adjusted.

Anyway, I loved this article. I'm printing it.

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