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Read My Mind

The other day in the middle of a pretty intense rehearsal, I noticed I kept stopping to make corrections on little things (as one does). I also noticed I was correcting a lot of strikingly similar things….things my students should have been picking up on themselves.

So instead of me correcting them over and over, I changed my tactic. Every time I stopped, I would just look at them for a second, and wait to see what they said. When I waited, kids would offer up reasons as to why they thought I stopped:


“ We sang that word too spread”

“We took a breath there where we weren’t supposed to”

“That was flat”

“We didn’t breathe together”


And you know what, they were right. Pretty much every single time.


When I allowed my students to provide their own feedback, they were forced to listen more closely. After identifying what they didn’t do well, I asked them how to correct what they messed up on. Guess what? They can do that, too!


After going back and forth like this for a period, I took it to the next level. When classes came in the next day, I started off something like this:


“You know how you were able to tell me why I stopped you yesterday?”




“Well, after you told me why I stopped you, you were able to correct yourselves. That was pretty cool. Today as we’re going through things, I want you to see if you can do that in real-time while you’re singing. Self critique in the moment as we sing, so that I don’t have to stop you so much. That way, we’re singing more and stopping less. Can you try that?”


“Umm, yeah.”


“Ok, show me”

sixth grade concert_edited.jpg

This one little change re-focused my group, and got them listening and correcting their own performances. They sang better, and I was really proud of them for showing me what they were capable of.


The whole point of doing this is teaching these kids how to be successful musicians when they’ve left the walls of our classroom. I know that I’ve done my job well if they don’t need me anymore.


Fly, little birds.

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