In many of my lessons, I get asked by several parents about songs and poems that my students have created, and not really knowing how to encourage their young songwriter. It’s something that’s quite difficult to know exactly how to offer the right things to say to be honest with your young songwriter and also not give them false hope about their talent. Well, if encouraging is what you think you should be doing, I’m here to tell you that you are exactly right.
Always Remain Positive
As you know children and teens desire the approval of their parents and older siblings, regardless of how much they may act like they don’t care, in the case of some teenagers. One of the worst things that you can do is to tell them that they “can’t do it” or how terrible they are at it. This type of negative reinforcement can stay with him or her for years, and you may not have even realized you said this until after you’ve said it. You’ve moved on with your day and the young songwriter is repeating those words in their heads. So, if this is you, please go apologize immediately and remind them that they shouldn’t give up on growth. Michael Jordan was cut from his freshman year basketball team. Thomas Edison had thousands of failed inventions before he came up with the light bulb. Basically, life is full of “not so great” before arriving at the “truly awesome”. They key is to not give up, because you haven’t failed until you stop trying to succeed.
Sometimes, Listening Is Enough
First thing, you want to actually listen when they want to sing, play or read you their works of art. Just giving that attention is sometimes encouragement enough. I can personally remember times when learning music that I wanted my mom and dad to hear what I’ve done and just clap. Some songs, I knew weren’t great, others were amazing… to me. It didn’t matter; I just wanted them to hear it. However, sometimes, young creators want to know what you think.
Give Honest And Positive Feedback, From Your Perspective
When they want to know how you feel about it, don’t lie about it. Honest criticism is what we have to get ready for when pursuing a life in art. Instead of just saying “that’s really not good”, try to find an area of improvement. Saying something like, “maybe you should shorten that verse”, or “I really like the way this part sounded, maybe you should try to make the song more like that section”.
Things To Look For And Questions To Ask
Some things that you can pay attention to, if you yourself are not a musician is talk about the subject matter. What is he or she talking about in her song, or if the song has no words, what is the feeling that he is trying to communicate? Because, remember, music is just a sonic emotion. Furthermore, pay attention to the flow of energy and the flow of the phrase. If you’re listening to the song and it feels that you can’t easily flow from one section to the next, then point that out and say that they may want to try to get that part to flow more easily. You may also suggest that she find a similar song to the one that she may be writing and comparing their transitions and melody to the similar song.
The trouble in art is how subjective it is. Even if you don’t like, someday, someone just may really appreciate what he or she has created, so encouraging and supporting that growth through some constructive criticism and praise when it’s deserved can help give the young creator the boost and proper direction that is needed during the developmental years.
As always, keep practicing!
Article by Burdett Rice, Atlanta Piano, Voice, and Composition Teacher with Lessons In Your Home.