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Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
malkin #2779862 11/10/18 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
However, ideas that influence my teaching practice usually come from people with fewer publications and speaking engagements but who have spent more time engaged in actual education with actual other humans similar to the ones I work with.

You have put into words something that I was not able to express.

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Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
SchroedersCat #2779961 11/11/18 01:36 AM
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Originally Posted by SchroedersCat
"Paurve ti bete, bless your heart, you sure are putting a lot of effort into digging that hole with a spoon. You sure you don't want a shovel?"

My god, have you been eavesdropping on my lessons?

My awful student had the gall to tell me that she thought she had "improved" this week. She considers practicing three times a week an improvement? I just had to put her in her place. I blame her school teachers for giving her self-esteem. Her inflated sense of self-worth will eat her alive in 10 years. Make that 5 years.


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Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
SchroedersCat #2780025 11/11/18 09:31 AM
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Thanks for bringing up Carol Dweck. I thought the OP's article while it had some points showed a lack of knowledge of other thought, in particular the Dweck growth mindset and "not yet" ideas.

As an adult student I need feedback on things I don't hear myself doing wrong, and advice on how to do it better. (that advice needs to be more specific and directive for some students than for others.) I don't particularly need any motivation assistance.

For very young students, a good bit of the motivation to do anything is pleasing the teacher. At some point a music student clearly must transition to a more internal motivation.

Last edited by TimR; 11/11/18 09:32 AM. Reason: clarity

gotta go practice
Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
SchroedersCat #2783294 11/21/18 11:27 PM
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Good job when they do a good job, bad job when they do a bad job. Why need be anything other?

Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
Rallent #2783297 11/21/18 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Rallent
Good job when they do a good job, bad job when they do a bad job. Why need be anything other?


As a student, that would be fine with me as long as the ‘good job’ wasn’t forced. In other words, if there were five ‘bad job’ areas, I wouldn’t want a teacher to hunt for five good job areas and I hate ‘good job’ BUT .,,,,,

Just the facts and only the facts.... no sugar coating, please

Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
SchroedersCat #2788333 12/06/18 10:17 AM
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Specific details with praise and encouragement help me focus on replicating or changing a behavior. Without specifics I am clueless.


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Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
Rallent #2788453 12/06/18 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Rallent
Good job when they do a good job, bad job when they do a bad job. Why need be anything other?

How can a student orient in their practice and studies at all, with so little information?

Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
SchroedersCat #2794247 12/22/18 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by SchroedersCat
Ooooh...."Praising effort encourages more effort".



What would be a phrase that praises effort? "Good effort" seems to be a bit... condescending.

Sometimes I say, "good start." But honestly, students are looking for feedback, so I always catch myself saying "good ______" (start / playing / job)

Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
SchroedersCat #2799607 01/08/19 05:32 AM
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I use "good job" with my daughters and don't care what some article says. I have always raised my daughters with praising for their good job and I see only profit for doing so. The pride they take while accomplishing something with these two words is really valuable and they learn good self-esteem and proactivity.


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Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
SchroedersCat #2799664 01/08/19 09:24 AM
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One option is to say something specific, be it every so small, that is better this week than last week. ("I can really tell you've been working on that trill---let's try it this way now...". ). So you're being specific about the effort and also it shows that you as as teacher can recognize the work involved in practicing, even if the outcome is less than stellar at this point.


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Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
Artur Gajewski #2799738 01/08/19 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Artur Gajewski
I use "good job" with my daughters and don't care what some article says. I have always raised my daughters with praising for their good job and I see only profit for doing so. The pride they take while accomplishing something with these two words is really valuable and they learn good self-esteem and proactivity.


Ok, but what about the ideas expressed in the posts here other than the article - especially in the context of teaching? A number of us have been saying that a student needs to know what he has done right, and maybe why it is right, and maybe even how they can bring it further. As a student I have found "good" or "good job" to not give me anything I can use. It doesn't feel like real acknowledgement and it feels almost lazy - like is it just a mindless reflex?

Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
Bluoh #2799799 01/08/19 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Bluoh
Originally Posted by SchroedersCat
Ooooh...."Praising effort encourages more effort".



What would be a phrase that praises effort? "Good effort" seems to be a bit... condescending.

Sometimes I say, "good start." But honestly, students are looking for feedback, so I always catch myself saying "good ______" (start / playing / job)


Bluoh, SchroedersCat was quoting me when she wrote, "Praising effort encourages more effort," so let me give an example of what I mean.*

I have students who struggle to keep the pulse going when they, for instance, have to move to a new position. They are so intent on hitting the correct key after the move, that they take as much time as they need to locate their new hand position before striking. They sometimes think that as long as they're playing the right notes, it doesn't matter when they play them.

So we work on being bold and fearless in launching to the general area for their new hand position, and if they strike somewhere close to where they're going, and hit the keys (even if the wrong ones) exactly on time, I praise them for their work in trying to keep the beat.

I don't think they find that condescending, because the praise is based on something they actually improved on: maintaining (or perhaps coming closer to keeping) the pulse compared to their previous playing. It gives them specific feedback on what they did correctly, and encourages them to build on their success, rather than to feel like they failed because they didn't hit the right keys.

IMO, it's easier to correct a faulty landing onto a key in a new position than it is to break a habit of perpetually slowing way down before a tricky area. I think it's a big accomplishment when students get over their fear of hitting wrong notes. They conquer something--playing in time--they didn't know had been a problem. It encourages them to tackle more of the challenges in the music when they know some of their efforts have already been fruitful.

*tl;dr version:

"You timed that leap well this week and played the next note right on beat one!" smile

ETA: The age of the student makes a difference in how often and what sorts of praise I give for effort. Some of what would be encouraging for a young child wouldn't necessarily be appropriate for an older or advanced student. My example above is more for the young set.

Last edited by Andamento; 01/08/19 04:51 PM.
Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
SchroedersCat #2799842 01/08/19 06:52 PM
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Andamento, what you are describing is praise for a specific goal that got met. I think that is what some of us have been talking about. A generic "good work" is different, somehow, especially if that kind of non-specificity happens often. You both know what the goal is, and in that case "good job" is more than enough.

Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
SchroedersCat #2799913 01/08/19 10:48 PM
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I recently had a manager who constantly praised us in general terms: thank you for all you do!

I'm not sure he ever cared enough to find out what we really did.

But his criticism was very detailed and specific: I require you to respond in three days, and you've missed that four times this month! Unacceptable!

Needless to say his praise had zero impact, he lacked credibility. That credibility needs specific details to be convincing.


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Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
TimR #2800104 01/09/19 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
But his criticism was very detailed and specific: I require you to respond in three days, and you've missed that four times this month! Unacceptable!

I'm even more specific than that when I am criticizing my students' playing. But who's listening?

Some of my students are smart enough to figure out that, if I have nothing to say (or criticize), then they've done a good job. The rest of the students can have the "I'm never good enough" mountain to climb.


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Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
AZNpiano #2800948 01/11/19 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by TimR
But his criticism was very detailed and specific: I require you to respond in three days, and you've missed that four times this month! Unacceptable!

I'm even more specific than that when I am criticizing my students' playing. But who's listening?

Some of my students are smart enough to figure out that, if I have nothing to say (or criticize), then they've done a good job. The rest of the students can have the "I'm never good enough" mountain to climb.

So let me get this straight: If I, as your student, play correct rhythm, at a good tempo, with good dynamics, good fingering, and everything else is basically right and even excellent, I should then be happy when you say nothing? I'm supposed to intuit from that the idea that I just did something good?

Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
SchroedersCat #2800958 01/11/19 05:52 PM
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Avoiding saying "good job" is just stupid. There are two months of semantic nonsense in this thread.

There, I said it.

Use any phrase you like. Use it as often as you wish. Just make it specific, so that people know what you are commenting on.

The insanity in this thread is giving me a headache.

Last edited by Gary D.; 01/11/19 05:53 PM.
Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
Gary D. #2800986 01/11/19 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
The insanity in this thread is giving me a headache.
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I had hoped, when I joined PW some years ago as a professional musician, that I would find a group of musicians who were keen to dig deeply into music - its interpretation, its stylistic nuances, the technical issues arising from the nature of the instrument and the like.

It has not turned out to be the case.

Most posters seem interested only airing a pet peeve, or offering unsubstantiated opinions and insulting others, or doling out trivia.

Interestingly, the most well-rounded discussions of any technical nature, while not always directly related to music, but at least to the instruments, is the Digital Forum. These are people who like to dig deep.

Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
Gary D. #2801100 01/12/19 04:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
So let me get this straight: If I, as your student, play correct rhythm, at a good tempo, with good dynamics, good fingering, and everything else is basically right and even excellent, I should then be happy when you say nothing? I'm supposed to intuit from that the idea that I just did something good?

I think you're smart enough.

You're missing the subtleties of the argument, and the context. While I don't go as far as that drum teacher in Whiplash, I do agree to an extent that "Good job!" is overused. It has become pointless. It's also misguiding students to pursue praise (or approval) instead of learning the material. Mastering the material at hand should be, by itself, enough reward and satisfaction.

A sidebar is my pet peeve of praising the effort. As a student, I was always appalled whenever the teacher had to praise the effort. Students are SUPPOSED to give effort.


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Re: Avoiding "Good job!"
SchroedersCat #2801170 01/12/19 10:16 AM
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I'm just a self-teaching piano learner, so I didn't really think this thread pertained to me, it was just an interesting read. But today I realized that I was doing this exact thing!!! I teach an art class to senior citizens, and I've been pretty much telling each of them that they did a good job, without being specific, and in some cases without even being truthful. I'm going to try being more specific, and maybe find one thing that they did well to praise, and one thing that I can point out that they are capable of doing better. Thanks.


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