My students are NOT okay with doing something wrong. Kids don’t want to do it the wrong way or be seen with the wrong answer. This is especially an issue with music making because it is such a communal thing, they want to get it right for themselves and they want to get it right because they don’t want their peers to think that they’ve failed or made errors. I find this to be a bigger problem especially with my 4th and 5th graders. They are starting to have an ego and they don’t want their ego to be bruised.
The real trick is setting up a class where students can feel okay to make mistakes. And how do you teach them to identify mistakes, learn from them, and try again. Ugh! It’s hard! I’ve found a couple little tricks from friends that have really helped to make my students more comfortable with errors and mishaps and little ways that teach them to move on and let their mistakes inform their future behavior.
Teach that it’s good to make mistakes
That’s the process, here are the tricks!
Tell Kids to “Brush it Off.”
Reinforce that it’s okay to make mistakes
The clincher from the story is that after I show the video I reveal to them that this little girl was a stand-in. The kid who was supposed to have that line didn’t show up on the night of the concert and this girl put on the costume and said his lines even though she’d never said that part before or even worn the costume. When I tell kids this they get really impressed and have a very different impression about her performance. She’d never said the lines, worn the costume, or been in front of people before. She didn’t get a chance to practice it, so it makes sense that the hat would fall off. She’d not tried it before. Then I ask, “Since she was doing this for the first time, do you think that she made her moment matter? Did she try her hardest and do a great job?” They are then super proud of how she did. Her mistake makes sense because she’d not even tried the costume on before. She went through the process and did good work.