Music Creates MAGIC for Those Who Play It, Listen to It -


Play It Forward’s mission creates MAGIC in its students: Mental Wellness, Agility, Grit, Independence and Community. This week, PIF highlights Grit.


The word “grit” may not be the first to come to mind when you see your child play an instrument like the piano, but several music and psychology experts have noted the resolve and perseverance it takes to learn and perform music can help a student develop grit.

In a 2014 article written by Spring Seals, found at, the piano instructor notes that students develop grit through practice and performance.

“Even if a student is naturally talented, there comes a time in piano when they must put in the time and effort to improve,” Seals writes. “If grit really is the key to success, then piano teachers are doing a great service by pushing our students to buckle down, put in the long hours of practice, and wait months or even years to see the results.”

Psychologist Angela Duckworth, the best-selling author of “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” cites dedicated piano playing as exemplary of the kind of stick-to-itiveness a child needs to overcome obstacles in life.

Duckworth believes five characteristics make up grit: courage, conscientiousness, perseverance, resilience, and passion. She adds that her research has found possessing grit is actually a more important factor than talent or IQ when it comes to achieving success. For example, she maintains that a child who sticks with piano year after year will eventually develop the kind of grit that enables them to persevere not just in music but in other areas of life.

In a 2016 interview with Australia’s ABC Radio National, Duckworth used practicing music as an example of how someone can develop grit – in part because everyone who studies music is trying something they’re not already capable of doing.

“When a musician is doing deliberate practice, they play the same measure over and over again,” Duckworth says. “They’re working on, often, the most difficult part of the piece, so it’s the least fluent and there are long pauses in the practice … During that pause that musician is thinking about the feedback (from a teacher), they’re reflecting, they’re planning a refinement and they’re doing the whole thing over and over again.”

To learn about musicians, including Stevie Wonder and Beethoven, whose grit helped them overcome the challenges their disabilities presented, visit