January 31, 2018

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Strength Based Practice

January 31, 2018


Strength-Based Practice, Strength-Based Teaching… Don't Focus on the F Grade


-          Your strength is your greatest opportunity               for development.


-          Strength-based practice instead of                          practice based predominantly on                              weakness.


-          Instead of practice that is based solely on              the things you need to get better at.


-          Instead of focusing on all the negatives in               your playing.


This doesn’t mean that you can ignore the weaknesses in your playing and still expect success. What I’m proposing is that through recognizing your strengths and building on them, you will develop a constructive and effective way to successfully improve your weaknesses. I believe this approach will raise the entire level of your game and, it might even be an enjoyable journey.


-          Can you recognize the strengths that you have?

-          Can you elevate and develop your strengths?

-          Can you capitalize on your strengths?

-          Is there a way to make more of your strengths?


Thoughtfully ask yourself these questions next time you pick up your trumpet.


Here are some ideas about what your strengths could be:


-          Musicality - are you expressive? do you naturally capture and portray the feelings in the                     music?

-          Sound - do you have an absolutely stunning tone? Is it gorgeous, clear, beautiful, opulent,                 expressive, warm, unforgettable. What descriptive words would you use?

-          High notes – can you nail them every time? Strong or gentle. Do you own them?

-          Articulation – fast and clean, effortless? Do you have a tongue like a viper?

-          Flexibility – Irons all day and night?


Academic psychology has shifted so much towards an excess of positive reinforcement. For myself, I do not subscript to the ‘everybody gets an award for participating’ environment which seems to have taken over in our educational system.


As a teacher I believe that acknowledging and rewarding every effort regardless of merit would, ultimately be a failing on my part. I want to give my students the tools they need to accomplish great things. Accomplishment beyond participation.


How can I help my students identify their strengths?


How can I help them establish a default setting of strength in their playing? What things should we practice to enhance and develop that strength?


These questions are foremost in my mind and I believe they set up a positive foundation on which to start and continue the journey towards real tangible success.

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© 2016 Vance J. Woolf