PRINCIPLE 7: FOSTER
FEEDBACK AND CRITIQUE
THIS PRINCIPLE COULD BE AMPLIFIED to read, “Offer opportunities for and help foster comfort and confidence in offering and receiving feedback and critique.” Feedback and criticism can take many forms and can flow from teacher to student or between students. Conversational feedback between a teacher and a student (or small group) is almost always a part of the coaching described in chapter 8 and involves praise, observations, suggestions, and thought-provoking questions. The teacher can also offer more formalized feedback via a rubric or other assessment tool (addressed in chapter 11). However, this chapter deals primarily with teacher modeling, moderating, and guiding students in offering one another useful feedback and criticism during classroom discussions or even more novel, technology-assisted feedback on blogs or wikis.
There is a distinction to be made between feedback offered to students (whether as composers, arrangers, producers, improvisers, etc.) during the creative process and criticism of the final product. Both deal with the same aesthetic considerations, but one helps the student make decisions and refine while the other is more a final judgment.
While I certainly find it helpful to give kids feedback myself, I work hard to give students the chance to hear one another’s work and to offer and receive criticism early on, in the midst of, and near the end of a project. This helps kids know if they are on target with their own work as they compare their approaches and solutions with those of their peers. It also helps train students to listen critically for the sorts of musical features they are supposed to be incorporating in their own work. You have no doubt heard the old adage, “The best way to learn something is to teach it.” Similarly, a great way to solidify students’ understanding of a musical principle or device is to have them listen for and discuss it in the work of others. I have noticed a reciprocal relationship between students’ sensitivity to the use of creative gestures in the work of others and their comfort and confidence with these same features as they create. The ability to articulate