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One of my piano students yesterday was playing a piece we’d just started and she struggled to remember just how it goes. She debated over keys to push and haltingly made choices and eventually produced the music. Along the way she could have done what some of my students do, and that is look at me to see if they are doing it right, or for a clue as to whether they have their hands on the right notes. Some children look to me, but I do not give them much. I put on a poker face or look away because it has to come from them. I want them to dig deep and find what they have inside to trust in themselves.

It seems some kids are prepared to trust their own opinion, their own intuition, their own ideas about what to do next, and there are other kids who need to look outside themselves to see what to do. Maybe it’s something I barely recall from a psychology class an eon ago: the external versus the internal foci of attention. Do you need validation from outside, or can you validate yourself? Parents surely have a lot to do with this.

So I see it clear as a bell that some children do not ever look to me to help them figure out how the song goes that they’ve worked on at home and now much show. They trust they can find it in their mind somewhere and I applaud them when they do it. I point out that they have wisely trusted themselves and how proud I am of them for doing that.

I love seeing children who’ve been taught to trust themselves because eventually in life, if you are healthy, you will stand on your own two feet, and to me, there’s no time like right now to get started on that.

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