I love this quote from Beethoven:
“Prince, what you are you are by accident of birth; what I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been thousands of princes and will be thousands more, but there is only one Beethoven!”
I like how Beethoven attributes his skill and ‘talent’ to work ethic. In fact, when you read about men and women of expertise, they all do. They rarely go on about genetic giftedness – which is interesting because much of the public does just that. More than any other subject area, music is assumed to come from a genetic disposition. But there is no evidence for this. A ‘music talent’ gene has not been found.
How we attribute our skills and achievements is called Attribution theory. This asks the question “Why am I good at what I do?”
For musicians the question might be “Why am I good at music?” Let’s look at three possible responses.
- I was born this way. I got lucky in the genetic lottery and have a special innate musical gift.
- I have a really good teacher. In fact my teacher once told me, “I will make you a fine musician.”
- I work at it. I practise hard, I seek advice, and I learn from my mistakes. My effort is the primary reason for my progress.
The first two responses attribute competency to factors outside of the self. This mindset undermines autonomy, which in turn undermines intrinsic motivation. The third response supports autonomy and an internal locus of control. This is a growth-intelligence mindset that fosters positive learning behaviours. I’ll talk more about the importance of this mindset in the next post. If you are familiar with the excellent work of Carol Dweck (Stanford) – so relevant for music teachers – then you know where I’m going with this.
What do you think?
Our greatest gift is our capacity to learn. “We are born to learn.” -Aristotle
An excerpt from Learning Strategies for Musical Success
“A must read for all music educators” – Robert Adams, New Haven, USA.
“Fantastic book, simply brilliant! – Ian Cooper, Norfolk, UK
“Rarely do I come away feeling so inspired. Incredibly beneficial.” – Music Matters Blog
“Most stimulating!” – Nicholas Carpenter, Prebendal, UK
“A must buy for every music teacher and music student” – William Bruce, Teacher of Strings, UK.
“Deeply impressive, the breadth of research is fascinating!” – Robert Chamberlain, Team of Pianists and Monash University Piano Staff, Victoria Australia.
“Awesome! I want to recommend it to every teacher I know” – Michael Williamson, Australia
“I have read your book and it has made an amazing difference in my teaching and in my studio.” Beth Cruickshank, Past President – Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association.
Also by Michael Griffin
Second edition. Bumblebee! is more than just a wonderfucollection of 130 choir exercises and rounds. The author shares timeless wisdom to help you get your choir – primary or secondary – into shape.
View Table of Contents.
“This is really good for all kinds of vocal groups, choirs, conductors. Bravo!!”
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Modern Harmony Method: Fundamentals of Jazz and Popular Harmony (Third Edition, 2013) is a clear and well organised text suitable for students of arranging and composition, and for classically trained musicians wishing to grasp the beautiful logic of jazz harmony. Essential understandings include chord selection, voicing, symbols, circle of 4th progressions, extensions, suspensions and alterations. Included in the 107 pages are explanations, examples, exercises and solutions. The course can be started with students in year 9 and worked through to year 12 musicianship, composing and arranging. Available at Amazon.com
Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Fundamentals of Notation is a unit of work for general music middle school classes. Designed around the mastering of practical skills, it integrates theory, aural and history, and allows students to progress at their own rate. View Table of Contents. “This has been a great buy; the books are just superb! Interesting topics with a wide range of pieces. Great content with clear progression of learning. Fascinating teaching philosophy! BRAVO!” -The Grieg Academy, London. Available at Amazon.com
Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Let’s Get Creative! is the fun and creative extension to ‘Fundamentals of Notation’.
View Table of Contents. “We have been using your keyboard course and the results have been amazing!” – St George College, Australia
Available at Amazon.com