Positive Reinforcement While Teaching Music

As private music teachers, of course we teach the basics; not values, fingerings, etc., but we are entrusted with the development of our students confidence. This could affect other facets of their lives as well. In essence we become psychologists. The key phrase to remember is “Positive Reinforcement.” No matter how poorly a student plays a pattern, you should always follow up with a positive response. It can be as simple as, “OK, let’s try it again.” By starting our phrase with a positive word like, “OK” or “Great” we make sure not to deflate the child’s ego. There are other expressions at different degrees of praise. Here are a few examples.

“Nice, let’s try it again.”

“Good, let’s make it better.”

“That was great, let’s play it faster.”

“Awesome, now let’s add the beat.”

“That’s really good. Were you tonguing?”

I’m sure you have other effective ideas like the ones suggested here. Keep in mind that the words alone don’t necessarily convey the right message. You’ll need to make sure your tone of voice is sincere and caring. Remember that while children are learning, one negative experience can turn them off. Once you and your student understand each other, you’ll be able to figure out the type of instruction that works best for them. In the meantime, try out these phrases and make music fun for them!