Tallent vs Hard Work

Sue Hunt said: Aug 23, 2012
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

In The Right Instrument for your Child, Atarah Ben-Tovim says,

“Parents may wonder why an obviously bright child who learned quickly to read and write, does well at school and is articulate and socially competent, fails to make progress on the violin and gives up, while apparently less intelligent friends carry on and make progress.

The answer is usually that the bright child has found everything too easy and never learned to apply himself. Without conscientious application, sustained progress on the violin is not possible.”

Do you think that really going for it and praising effort and focus rather than talent and results can help to overcome this? See research by Carol Dweck and Claudia Mueller

Barb said: Aug 23, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
685 posts

Another article on the studies: http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/

Yes, I believe it, I have witnessed it, I have even experienced it myself!

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Charlotte Dinwiddie said: Aug 24, 2012
Charlotte DinwiddieViolin, Viola
Poughkeepsie, NY
10 posts

One important thing to remember……..school work is “only” intellectual so a very smart child can learn without much effort. Playing the violin also requires a physical component. I have told students that I could explain everything they needed to know to play the violin in a couple of hours. But that doesn’t mean they could DO it. The analogy really hits home when I say someone could tell me how to run a marathon, but unless I train, I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Teresa said: Aug 24, 2012
Teresa Skinner
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
69 posts

Thanks for posting the link to the NY Times article. Its very informative! I too, have kids in my studio that are “smart” and when faced with a challenging new technique, a resounding “I CAN’T DO IT” results. Then effort is put into gear and eventually they can do it! Praise for effort is so important!


…if you listen to the music, it tells you what to do…

Wendy Caron Zohar said: Aug 24, 2012
Wendy Caron Zohar
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
100 posts

Yes, the article from New York Magazine on How Not to Talk to Your Kids, is excellent. Total agreement here, both as an educator, and as a parent having gone through this twenty-five years ago!

Wendy Caron Zohar

If we work hard, music may save the world.—S. Suzuki

Sue Hunt said: Aug 25, 2012
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

I particularly like the bit at the end of the NYM article about parents who are praise junkies. It’s scary when we get to the stage where praise for achievement becomes the expression of love.

When my children were little, our violin teacher gave me a list of 100 ways to say very good. Even though I made the effort to make my praise specific, I couldn’t help lacing them with superlatives. I often wondered why their response to all that “Bravo, well done, couldn’t have done better myself etc.” was so negative.

Laura Nerenberg said: Aug 25, 2012
Laura Nerenberg
Suzuki Association Member
Ottawa, ON
49 posts

Thank you for this thoughtful topic. I was a praise junkie kid, and am still fighting that as an adult. Of course, we need recognition and feedback to make sure we’re on the right track, but it can become a bit much.

Just yesterday, an older female relative asked me if I had remembered to bring my daughter’s sun hat. When I told her I had, she exclaimed: “Good Job!!” I had to chuckle. I really didn’t need ANY praise in this situation.

Charlotte, your marathon analogy is great. I will borrow it!

Wendy, your Suzuki quote at the bottom of your post is wonderful. Where is it from?


Emily said: Dec 4, 2013
 59 posts

I absolutely think that it’s important to praise the effort, not just the achievement. Really there should be a balance of both. It is also important to praise someone for a job well done, too. I do, however, believe that the effort should be praised more often. Even though someone is intellectually intelligent and can get and do a concept easily, doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of praise as well. Consistent effort and achievement is praiseworthy all the way around.

Emily Christensen
Music Teacher & Writer

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