6 Secrets To Unlocking Your Child’s Talent

Could your child be the next American Idol? The next American president? Perhaps.

Daniel Coyle, author of the bestselling book, The Talent Code, says you can up a child’s chances immensely by understanding one key thing: greatness isn’t born, it’s grown.

Coyle spent two years bouncing between nine of the world’s greatest talent hotbeds—tiny, magical places that produce huge numbers of world-class performers in sports, art, music, and math. And what he found is that parents have been sold an incorrect picture as to how genius happens. Immense talent isn’t written into kids’ DNA, Coyle says, it’s the result of a distinctive and powerful pattern, a pattern that combines three elemental forces: targeted methods of practicing, specific methods of motivating, and coaching.

How kids practice, how they deal with failure, how they get praised, and how they are criticized, all play a part in the likelihood of achieving greatness. “Of course, not everyone grows up to be a Michelangelo or a Michael Jordan,” Coyle says, but understanding that genius is not an accident, but the result of a distinctive and powerful pattern, helps parents unlock the neurophysiology of learning.

Whether he was on a crummy tennis court in Russia that produced more top-20 players than the entire United States, or thousands of miles away at a classical musical academy in the Adirondacks, coaches in talent hotbeds “would speak with the same kind of rhythm, give the same kinds of instructions, and look at their students with the same kind of gaze. The practices would feature similar methods, like slowing things down to unbelievably slow speeds, or compressing the practice into a tiny space and speeding it up,” Coyle says.

He found that what was most striking about the talent hotbeds was “how amazingly similar” they all were. Want to create your own hotbed at home? Here are Coyle’s six strategies for unlocking kids’ talents:

Watch for tiny, powerful moments of ignition. It’s not easy to practice deeply—it requires passion, motivation, persistence, and the emotional fuel we call love. New research is showing us that when it comes to motivation, we are all born with the neurological equivalent of hair triggers. When a child’s identity becomes intertwined with a goal, the trigger fires, and a tsunami of unconscious motivational energy is released. Coyle points to a study done with a set of young musicians in which young musicians who foresaw themselves as adult musicians learned 400 percent faster than kids who did not. “It’s not genes that made these kids succeed, it’s the fuel contained inside a tiny idea: I want to be like them,” Coyle says.

Understand that all practice is not created equal—not by a long shot. The talent hotbeds have long known a crucial fact that science is just discovering: skill-acquisition skyrockets when we operate on the edge of our abilities, making errors and correcting them—a state called “deep practice.” The takeaway: mistakes aren’t verdicts; they’re information we use to build fast, fluent skill circuits. Kids who are able to see errors as fuel for learning, rather than setbacks, are the ones that eventually become geniuses.

Recognize that slow practice is productive practice. This technique is common to virtually every talent hotbed, from tennis to cello to math. The reason it works: when you go slow, you can sense and fix more errors—coach yourself to build a better skill circuit. At Meadowmount, a classical-music school whose alumni include Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, the rule is, you should play slow enough that a passer-by can’t recognize the song. As one coach puts it, “It’s not how fast you do it. It’s how slow you can do it correctly.”

Praise effort, not natural ability. When we praise a child’s intelligence, we’re telling her that status is the name of the game, and she reacts by taking fewer risks. When we praise effort, however, kids become more inclined to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them—the essence of deep practice and learning. It’s no coincidence that talent hotbeds use effort-based language: The Russian tennis players I met don’t “play” tennis – the word is borot’sya – to struggle.

Encourage mimicry. Copying is a neurological shortcut to skill. Vividly imagining yourself perfecting a skill is a great first step to actually doing it, whether you’re writing or dancing. Tim Gallwey, the author/tennis instructor, teaches beginner students to play a passable game in twenty minutes through mimicry—all without uttering a single word of instruction.

Stand back. The kind of deep practice that grows skill circuits can only come from within the kid, not from the parent, no matter how well-meaning. As Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck puts it, all parental advice can be distilled into two essential points: 1) pay attention to what your child stares at; 2) praise them for their effort. In other words, notice when they fall in love, and help them to use the energy of that love wisely.

When you start thinking about talent as a process—when you see the power of certain forms of practice, when you look for inner passion, when you tune into the teaching signals you can send—life changes, Coyle says. Like most big changes, it shows itself in small ways. “For our family, it’s when our son has a tough new song on the piano, and my wife encourages him to try just the first bar, or just the first five notes over and over, doing it in baby steps until it starts to click. Or when our daughters are skiing, and they excitedly inform us that they fell a bunch of times, which must be a sign that they are getting better,” Coyle says. (A concept that works better with skiing than it will with learning to drive a car).

Mostly, though, teaching kids that talent is built, not born, allows them to look at failure in a completely new way. Failure is not a verdict, it’s a path forward. And mistakes are not something to be embarrassed about, they’re steps on the path to success. Without them, greatness is not possible.

source: http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/6-secrets-to-unlocking-your-childs-talent/

10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Learn To Play Musical Instrument!!

Can you imagine living your life without music? It would be very hard to do so, as music has been hard-wired into our very existence as human beings. While everyone enjoys listening to good music, not many of us are what the world calls ‘musicians’- the ones with the ability to play a musical instrument. This could be due to not having the opportunity to learn as kids or simply due to lack of inclination or proper instruction. However, music is something that is never too late to learn. And here are 10 good reasons as to why everyone should learn to play a musical instrument.

1. Playing a musical instrument relieves stress 
Researchers studying the benefits of music have reported that playing a musical instrument on a regular basis can help bring down stress. Studies show that playing an instrument helps in lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, which in turn lowers the stress hormone cortisol, thus making us feel relaxed. While just listening to music also helps, learning to play an instrument brings with it a comforting routine of daily practice that helps in keeping the stress hormones away. Michael Jolkovski, a psychologist who specializes in musicians, feels that music also helps in bringing down stress by helping people connect with others. “It (music) can satisfy the need to unwind from the worries of life, but unlike the other things people often use for this purpose, such as excessive eating, drinking, or TV or aimless web browsing, it makes people more alive and connected with one another.”

2. Playing a musical instrument makes you smarter
People who have received a music education are generally smarter than their non-musical counterparts are. Extensive research done in this area has proved that children who learn to play a musical instrument do better in academics. Shaw, Rauscher, Levine, Wright, Dennis and Newcomb, in their research paper titled Music Training Causes Long-Term Enhancement Of Preschool Children’s Spatial-Temporal Reasoning, speak about, “a research team exploring the link between music and intelligence reported that music training is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children’s abstract reasoning skills, the skills necessary for learning math and science.”

3. Playing a musical instrument improves your social life
Music helps you connect. Learning an instrument enlarges your social circle since you get to meet more people than you usually would. In children, music can help develop social skills. Maestro Eduardo Marturet, a conductor, composer and musical director for the Miami Symphony Orchestra, who also oversees the MISO Young Artist program in South Florida, has observed the effect that music has on a child’s social skills. “Socially, children who become involved in a musical group or ensemble learn important life skills, such as how to relate to others, how to work as a team and appreciate the rewards that come from working together, and the development of leadership skills and discipline.”

4. Playing a musical instrument helps build confidence
Choosing to take music lessons can help build confidence. Once you are aware that you are able to do something well, like play the flute for instance, you naturally become more confident of your skills. Learning to play an instrument can help both children and adults who face confidence issues. Elizabeth Dotson-Westphalen, a music teacher and performer, has found that music has helped many of students develop confidence. “They find that once they can develop a skill by themselves that they can get better and better.”

5. Playing a musical instrument teaches patience
Music teachers feel that music can help teach patience. In a world of instant gratification, learning to play an instrument is not something that can happen overnight. It is the daily effort of everyday practice that can help a musician learn how to play without mistakes. This is turn develops patience. Most musicians go through years of regular practice that includes daily musical exercises and the tackling of progressively difficult musical pieces, which in turn helps them conquer the virtue of patience. 

6. Playing a musical instrument fosters creativity
Stuck in everyday routine lives, many of us lose touch with our creative side. Learning to play a musical instrument, especially when you reach advanced levels, can foster that lost creativity. Since music education plays on your mental, emotional and cognitive abilities, the brain is stimulated to think out of the ordinary, which results in improved creativity. 

7. Playing a musical instrument improves memory
Music and memory go hand in hand. Learning to play a musical instrument makes you use both parts of your brain and this in turn boosts memory power. Maestro Eduardo Marturet, reiterates this point when he says, “Further research has shown that participation in music at an early age can help improve a child’s learning ability and memory by stimulating different patterns of brain development.” Music education is also linked to higher IQ levels and the physical development of certain parts of the brain.

8. Playing a musical instrument develops discipline
Music requires dedication and regular practice. Allotting a specific amount of time to practice music daily develops discipline in the learner. This can prove to be extremely advantageous in children. Mira Stulberg-Halpert, of 3D Learner Inc., who works with children who have ADHD, has seen music discipline children when everything else fails. She has this to say on the effect of music on kids.”Exposing kids to musical instruments is the key. They are naturally curious and excited about them-and the discipline that parents and kids learn by sticking with it is a lesson in itself.” 

9. Playing a musical instrument gives you a sense of achievement 
Learning to play a musical instrument gives you an immense sense of achievement. Pianist Emily Singers, in her article titled, 12 Reasons You Should Learn to Play the Piano, writes that piano playing can bring true satisfaction. “It’s truly one of the most satisfying things you can do,” she says. “There’s no feeling like playing a difficult song and playing it flawlessly. (It is) Quite an ego-boost.” This feeling of satisfaction leads to a tremendous sense of self-achievement that can help you accomplish more in other areas of your life.

10. Playing a musical instrument is fun
Lastly, learning to play a musical instrument is fun. “The art of music is so deep and profound that it has to be approached with a bit of intensity laced with great affectionate joy”, says noted singer, musician and Bollywood film music composer Shankar Mahadevan. Playing a musical instrument can bring back the fun factor into your life. Music has the special quality to bring joy, peace and fulfillment that helps lift the spirit and make life enjoyable for everyone involved.

source: http://www.shankarmahadevanacademy.com/

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