The book "Mindset" by Carol Dweck is about having a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. The fixed mindset is full of fear of not looking good in front of other people. The growth mindset is simply about expanding your horizons and being willing to fail in a spirit of experimentation as a necessary part of self-expansion. In a nutshell, the growth mindset is about learning and growing rather than judging or worrying about being judged.
Participation in a student recital is a perfect opportunity to grow. In a recital, neither the students, nor the teacher, nor the audience members judge anyone on the basis of how well they perform. What has been very destructive in my opinion is shows like American Idol and the like that make music out to be a sport, or at least a competition. Music is not like that at all, as we all know. It is a beautiful an easy way to immediately raise our collective vibration as evolving beings on an abundant and magnificent planet.
Not only are people not judging during a recital, but they are actually encouraging and supporting everyone who goes up to play. Yes, the audience gets the benefit of being entertained by their efforts, and yes, the ability to do so will vary from one student to the next. At the same time, everyone in attendance is very grateful and appreciative for everyone's performance regardless of their level of skill. In other words, everyone knows it's a recital not a concert, but they get the benefit of having moments throughout the recital that are equivalent to the enjoyment one receives from a concert.
Good teachers will be proud of everyone who has decided to participate in a recital, just for the sheer fact that they have realized that it is an excellent opportunity for musical growth for them, and have accepted the challenge accordingly. The pride they feel does not vary from student to student based on his or her level. In other words, unlike the fixed mindset that is portrayed in that book, they are not so much concerned with outcome as we are with the process.
However, we do live in a competitive world, and people will do and say things in ignorance about other people's ability to perform or lack thereof. There are countless stories of people who have received negative comments from teachers or loved ones, about music or anything else, and it destroyed their spirit towards pursuing things they love. But it doesn't have to be this way.
Your loved ones may not have the courage to say this to your face, but they, at the deepest level, underneath their own insecurities and jealousies, support your expanding success as a person and as a musician. We are all connected, and the expansion of one means the expansion of all. Our world is becoming so well-connected technologically, we all have a responsibility to connect and support each other spiritually by supporting each other's growth.
Good teachers love helping their students, and can relate to where they are at, because they too have been there. They understand that having a good teacher like themselves can shave off years of struggle to master, or even just enjoy, an instrument. Accordingly, they passionately want that kind of massive acceleration for their students.
Therefore, good teachers are excited about recitals because it’s simply an opportunity to propel students forward way faster than if they weren’t doing it. So, if you are a music student, congratulate yourself in advance as you make the decision to participate in your school’s recital or performance opportunity, if they offer one. Practice hard and break a leg!
About the author: Dennis Winge is the head teacher of Guitar Lessons Newfield and leads several different bands in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.