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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Building Skills 24

More from Daniel Coyle:  Tip #50 - Cultivate Your Grit
"Grit is that mix of passion, perserverance, and self-discipline that keeps us moving forward in spite of obstacles. It's not flashy and that's precisely the point. In a world in which we're frequentlly distracted by sparkly displays of skill, grit makes the difference in the long run."
There's been a lot written in the past few years about the concept of "grit" and it's importance—much of this comes from research by Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania (and a winner of one of the McArthur "genius grants)," who studied what made a difference in cadets doing well in or just surviving the famed "Beast Barracks" training at West Point. Beforehand, a brief test was given (you can find a version of it here),  "questions that asked them to rate their own ability to stick to goals, to be motivated by failure, and to persist in the face of obstacles." Grit proved extraordinarily successful in predicting success (much more so than intelligence and many other measures) and has also done well predicing success in many other areas.
As Coyle says, "Grit isn't inborn. It's developed, like a muscle. . ." and it's a muscle that's important to develop in ourselves and in our singers. The ability to persevere through learning challenging music, complicated musical and vocal skills, to persist in what Coyle calls, "deep practice," is what brings success.
If you find this interesting, a longer interview with Angela Duckworth is here. For a look at an opposing opinion, however, writer Alfie Kohn has a very good article questioning the concept of grit here.
What do you think? How important is it to success? If you believe it is, how do you cultivate grit—perseverance to reach difficult goals—in your singers/students?

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