When we validate our students it's most effective if we can be as specific as possible. By just saying "nice job," the student doesn't know what they did well, or if their teacher was really listening.
A helpful technique in validating your student is to point out something unique that they did well, and then tell them how that made you feel. This rewards your student and gives them a sense of being your fellow musician. The validating statements below were written by Nicholas Ambrosino at Music Simply Music.
This is not to say students should not also be receiving constructive criticism (often!). The reason they are taking lessons is to grow as a musician and they cannot do this with praise alone. An excellent way to use these validating statements is by sandwiching a piece of criticism in the middle (aka "the sandwich technique"). Be sure to be as specific as possible with criticism, just as you are with validation. For instance, instead of saying "let's try that passage again" you could say "this time play this passage twice as slow, with your fingers rounded - try to feel equal weight in each fingertip, and listen for the rich tone you produce."
Examples of Validating Statements
1. “I like the way you played that song with such speed! I felt like getting up and dancing!”
2. “When you play your music with all those dynamics, I feel relaxed and calm." (or excited and happy. Choose the appropriate feeling for the piece.)
3. “I felt so proud of you as you worked through the challenging passages of that section. I like the way you problem solved!”
4. “I feel so excited to hear you play with both hands together. The music sounds so full to me!”
5. “Wow, I was so excited to hear how you used tempos changes to express the music!”
6. “I feel so proud to make music with you! The way you prepared your lesson this week lets me know how much you enjoy making music!”
7. “I feel very melancholy when I hear you play the second movement of the sonata with such passion.”
8. “Your use of a active silence at the end of the piece left me on the edge of my seat, I was still hearing the music in my mind!”
9. “I feel so happy to know that you are proud of your accomplishment!”
10. “I feel very proud of the effort you gave this week.”