Suzuki Practice and Learning about Frustration
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In my last letter to you I said that life skills that are needed by successful adults are learned through Suzuki instruction.  Today we’ll look at frustration.  Does your child act out anger in any way, (not always verbal) during practice?  Or pout?  Or fall on the floor? Do you ever want to do these things too?  Dr. Phil said, “Anger is nothing more than an outward expression of hurt, fear and frustration.” Emotional maturity is the ability to stick to a job and to struggle through until it is finished, to endure unpleasantness, discomfort and frustration. (Edward A. Strecker)  Let’s help build emotional maturity!

Frustration happens when actions produce fewer results than one thinks (or wishes) they should.  Even when at rest the brain consumes enormous amounts of energy and a frustrating experience is vastly more energy draining. Frustrating experiences causes one to risk the depletion of mental and physical energy reserves.  Irritability, tiredness, stress and even anger can ensue.  

As Sumner Redstone said, “Success is not built on success. It's built on failure. It's built on frustration. Sometimes its built on catastrophe.”  Frustration can too easily derail someone from the path to success, so the answer is not to avoid frustrating situations (and spots in the music!) but learn how to manage frustration.  Here are a few things that can help:

Reward actions not just results.  Play is a fantastic way to reward the actions that lead to success for it makes what could be drudgery into a game.  The repetitive actions can at least be fun, even if at first they don’t result in success.    Oft times the fun will alleviate the frustration before it ever gets a foot hold.

Take a break
  • Acknowledge the child’s frustration by empathy, “I know this is so hard for you.” Or maybe “I wish I had a magic wand.”
  • Take time away from the difficult task by doing something that is easy, like review.
  • Play a game, give a hug, read a story, have a snack, run around the house, jump.

Plan your practices so that there is a limited amount of frustration producing moments.  One important way to do this is to NEVER neglect review.  How frustrating is it to have to relearn a skill that once was known?  Also NEVER neglect listening.  Students who struggle almost always haven’t heard songs enough.   And practice in units for less daunting work loads.

Be sure you and your child are not already tired, frustrated, or hungry before the practice begins.  School or the office events might predispose a frustrating practice if not dealt with first.
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