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How to become successful in music: The key to overcoming perfectionism

Updated: Mar 15

Throughout my years of teaching, I've encountered various personalities in children, one of them being the "Perfectionist."

Perfectionist children demonstrate an intense desire for flawlessness and set high standards for their performance. While aiming for excellence is positive, perfectionism in children can bring challenges. Let's explore key characteristics and considerations related to perfectionist children.

High Standards: Perfectionist children set exceptionally high standards across academics, sports, and personal relationships. Their pursuit of perfection can lead to excessive self-criticism.

Fear of Failure: Perfectionists often have an intense fear of failure. They may be highly sensitive to criticism and may avoid taking risks or trying new things to prevent potential failure.

Procrastination: Some perfectionist children procrastinate due to the fear of not meeting their high standards, causing increased stress.

Need for Approval: Seeking external validation, perfectionist children tie their self-worth to achievements, finding a sense of accomplishment only through recognition.

Negative Self-Talk: Perfectionists engage in negative self-talk, attributing mistakes to personal shortcomings, contributing to heightened stress and anxiety.

Difficulty Coping with Mistakes: Perfectionists struggle to cope with mistakes, viewing failures as catastrophic and finding it challenging to bounce back from disappointments.

Parental Influence: Parental expectations and pressure can contribute to perfectionism in children, shaping their tendencies.

Impact on Mental Health: Perfectionism in children correlates with increased risks of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

Spotting a perfectionist music student involves recognizing intelligence and impatience. They progress quickly but may lose interest when faced with prolonged challenges, viewing them as insurmountable obstacles. Success in music requires perseverance, grit, effort, and just as importantly, a teacher and mentor who will take the time to understand your needs.

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Perseverance - the ability to persist in the face of difficulties, maintaining a determined and steadfast attitude. It involves the ability to endure and overcome challenges without giving up.

Grit - a combination of passion and perseverance, particularly in the pursuit of long-term goals. It involves maintaining effort and interest over an extended period, even in the face of setbacks and challenges.

Effort - the amount of physical and mental energy put toward accomplishing a task or goal. It involves actively working towards a desired outcome and can be measured in terms of intensity and diligence.

So, how do you teach a perfectionist and keep them going?

Teaching perfectionists demands experience, patience, and adaptability. Sensitivity is key; guiding them through difficulties, celebrating small successes, and setting manageable goals are essential. Collaboration between teacher, student, and parent is vital, acknowledging that methods may need to evolve as students grow.

At MusicLife Academy, we boast a significant number of students actively engaged in the Trinity College of London program. Graded by seasoned, internationally trained music professionals proficient in all instruments, including Drama, this program stands out for its ability to challenge and motivate students. However, it can pose a unique challenge for perfectionists, particularly those navigating the transitional stages from Elementary to Intermediate and Advanced levels. During these critical phases, collaborative efforts between parents and teachers become imperative to guide students through challenges. Lacking the right support, these talented individuals may prematurely give up without realizing they are just a few steps away from reaching their pinnacle.


In conclusion, navigating the world of perfectionist children, especially in music education, demands a deep understanding of their unique traits. To foster success, promoting perseverance, grit and effort, and providing excellent guidance is essential. Creating a supportive, flexible learning environment helps perfectionist music students overcome challenges, ensuring an enthusiastic and resilient musical journey.


Principal, MusicLife Academy

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