When I teach piano lessons, you’ll often hear me say things like, “Great job right hand! Now left hand it’s your turn,” or “pinky, I need to talk to you for just a minute” or “3 finger you’re getting really bossy. Would you stop playing that note and let 2 finger play it?” Sometimes I even ask to see a particular finger and then whisper instructions to it.
When I make comments like those above, especially corrective comments, I’m addressing the fingers or hand and not criticizing the student himself. I’m taking a third person approach so that the student’s self esteem remains intact and he doesn’t feel like I’m attacking him. He is not wrong or right, he is just fine--it’s his hand or finger that needs adjustment.
This may sound like I’m overly sensitive and afraid of destroying a child’s ego. What I’m trying to do is preserve the child’s dignity and self esteem in a situation where correction and advice is often given.
I do the same with praise because there are actually right and wrong ways of giving praise to children - http://www.education.com/magazine/article/praise-children-expert/. I like to say things like: “Pinky, you did a great job of keeping curved” or “Nice job left hand. You remembered to play all the B flats.”
As parents helping your children practice an instrument, you can say the same things. “Wow, look at your curved fingers. Nice job fingers!” or “You might want to talk to your wrist and tell her to stop being so lazy.”
It may take a while to get used to talking this way, but it’s really fun and helps your child focus on something definite that his hands or fingers need to do. There is nothing wrong with him, he is just fine. It’s those pesky fingers that need the practice!