Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Mummy does not know best!

Can you show me again how to do this, darling? I still cannot do it!

A few years ago my oldest friend decided it was a good idea to start learning an instrument with her children. Her youngest, then 9 and fiercely competitive had just decided to take up the guitar. Much cooler than the recorder – which is what her older sister played.

My friend lives in a rural area and has to hang out during her kid’s music lessons. As she had to observe the lessons anyway, she felt quite inspired to try out what she had learned at home – secretly also hoping that her efforts might rub off on her daughter, too.

Unsurprisingly this had the opposite effect! Of course, my friend was ahead of her daughter – she knew how to read music, could accurately reproduce rhythmic patterns etc.

Did I mention my friend’s daughter is highly competitive?
So, rather than inspire my friend brought out the competitive spirit in her daughter. She wanted to help her child by showing her daughter how the piece should sound, what the teacher meant etc. only to induce stubbornness and indeed the odd tantrum.

In her case the opposite strategy would have been more effective. Children, in particular competitive ones enjoy a bit of one-up-manship. 

Try to get your child to teach YOU, pretend (or maybe you do not even have to pretend) that you do not understand something, make a few deliberate and silly mistakes and you might have a delighted music student at hand who is enjoying their new found superiority and is showing off their musical competence with delight.

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