Musical Musings

Sharing musical thoughts and ideas.

A secret talent students learn

Monday, September 13, 2021 by Paula Augustine | Parent Article

The Secret Talent of GRIT

Your student is gaining a secret hidden talent when they take lessons at Miss Paula's Music Studio. 


When a student comes in and says "I couldn't get the song this week." Most know I am going to say, "That's AWESOME!" Students soon learn we celebrate the difficult.

Grit is power of passion and perseverance for the long term. Grit is sticking with future goals and ideas day in and day out, working hard for the marathon rather than a short sprint. Grit is also known as growth mindset.

We do not always like the difficult, but deep down we know the difficult moves us forward. When a student doesn't get something, it is difficult. So we celebrate the difficult as a challenge and a path to success, rather than as failure, during lessons.

To help students through the difficult at the studio I assign deliberate practice areas, smaller chunks or specific ideas to focus on while practicing. All those sticky notes your student has in their books are more than just page markers. They have a specific deliberate practice area for the piece they are working. If the student chooses not to work on that section over the week they are generally re-assigned this deliberate practice area.

Deliberate practice is just one concept of the growth mindset or grit. I am part of the Vibrant Music Teacher Community and we teachers have been exploring new research and activities to help students with growth mindset. Over the summer I also completed the Music Mastery Course which delved even deeper into new research and ideas with growth mindset. 

This year we will begin exploring more areas of grit and growth with the students. We will learn specific mindsets which will help them further their studies and their outlook on life.

Each semester we will be covering two areas of growth mindset for kids in a fun way. I have games and stories to use. We will also be practicing these growth areas in our weekly practice goals. As I introduce the concepts I will have a quick article for parents describing the growth mindset we are covering. We can work together to grow confident students through music instruction.

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”

—Louisa May Alcot

*If you would like more information on Grit and Growth Mindset, Angela Lee Duckworth has a TED talk here: and a the book Grit.

*The website Character Lab offers tips and advice for parents and teachers on these concepts. This area of grit and growth mindset is researched by Psychologists to understand why talent is not enough. in fact, when a student is talented in something they may not excel as high as originally expected. Talented students find the area "easy" and when it gets difficult they may start to regress unless they accept to grow during new challenges and difficulties.

"In meticulous studies of chess, music, sports, and a range of other fields, Anders found that the willingness to engage in deliberate practice distinguishes the truly great from the merely good. Deliberate practice entails working with a coach or teacher to set specific challenging goals for improvement, concentrating completely while practicing, receiving immediate feedback, and then repeating the cycle again and again." Lauren Eskreis-Winkler