In my elementary band classes, I’ve spent a fair amount of energy this year on a few non-musical topics: grit (a focus of my whole team), self-awareness, and emotional safety.
Grit is a topic for another day.
Self-awareness is necessary for any of this to be useful. You can’t change a thought or behavior that you’re not able to notice. Applies to learning any skill or changing any behavior.
Emotional safety is not given as much time or emphasis as it deserves, in any realm.
We can’t learn to play instruments in an environment that is emotionally unsafe. While some of that is my responsibility, the kids have responsibility to each other to make the space safe.
(This is also true for math, reading, writing, any art, sciences, sports, families, and on and on and on….)
We don’t have to be each other’s friends. But we have to work together while we’re here in this room. Every single person here needs to be able to try to play something and mess it up without fear of ridicule.
That necessity increases by orders of magnitude when we’re composing. (Creative pursuits are scary!)
At the end of every class, my students have a short self-assessment to do. Two of the questions they need to reflect on are: “Were you kind to everyone in the room today?” and “Were you helpful to your group?” (They give themselves a simple yes or no. Kinda, maybe, sort of are all “no.”)
Don’t talk to me about how anyone else acted. How did you act? If there is a situation that needs my attention, please tell me about it, but not in the context of self-reflection.
Just like adults, some of the students are really hard on themselves, some of them are accurate, and some of them are really easy on themselves.
Where do you fall?