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Motivation and Practicing

How many times we face the reality: the student did not practice well enough/ too little/with wrong sound or fingering/without any concentration.

Facing it  we can definitely feel negative emotions, such as frustration, desperation, lack of interest and even anger. Many times we will not show these feelings of course but our body language or intonation will show the student that we are not happy.

These negative emotions are important to understand, but they cannot interfere with the need to help the student and make him/her motivated to make music and get better.

Let us take a deep breath and think creatively:

One of the common mistakes is that we tend to put our intentions and hopes upon the student: that he or she will practice better also will be totally thrilled to do so-But do we really implicate this habit or way of life ourselves?

How many times our own practicing is totally out of concentration? How many times we tend to delay the tiring work for tomorrow when we have to learn a new and difficult repertoire? How many times we are not prepared as we wanted to when we have a deadline? How  do we deal or organize ourselves in order to go back to fruitful practicing?

Frustration and motivation definitely do not go together: so instead of surrendering to negative emotions ,we have to help the student practice better: in lesson (yes, many times we have to practice with the student , and it can be very useful for us too!) and between the lessons.

Here are some strategies:

In lesson: Many young students are frightened by new piece: seems that some of them , no matter if they are talented or less are afraid from practicing both hands together. We can certainly be more patient and spend even 20 min. at the most by practicing with them hands separately, just to make sure they are more confident. Confidence is the basic base for organized practicing. This confidence can be maintained by instrumental confidence (solid sound, solid fingerings, solid ear etc), and mental confidence (positive self-evaluation)

 After a few times (that we will always play the other hand with them in order to have the ear confidence) we can try to ask the student to play both hands in a slow motion (never slow! The term "slow"  has the association of "stuck" mode in our mind).

Between lessons:

1. Plan with the student" Operating Instructions" or "manuals" . We can set goals such as "each day you will play ten times each hand separately and then ten times both hands together" . Many students love and ask for these "manuals", every time they start a new piece. (Did you notice that students tend to forget practicing habits when they start a new piece?)

2. Practicing diaries/logs. The students are required to write each day  (in a notebook of homework , but also they can send it to the teacher by Whatsapp/Messenger or any other device) a summary of their practicing. I find out that it is very helpful - it gives a perspective of the practicing,  keeps the contact between the student and the teacher and keeps motivation going.

Tasks and goals - consistency

Motivation arrives when goals are created. As pros we have to make goals first of all to ourselves: what do I expect the student to achieve next lesson/next month next term?

When the students see that we are consistent and have a goal to achieve, the results are arriving sooner than you can imagine.

Many students love little "examinations" or "pop quiz" goals. We have to ask them to prepare always more than they will achieve- for example when they play a sonata or sonatina, we will ask them to prepare a whole movement and not only one page (with our primary help of course). The next three lessons we will ask them already to prepare the movement by memory for the next "examination". Such as computer games, kids love steps and goals:so it can be translated to their practicing habits.

Not only kids, even students on a higher level need this motivation, and of course the teacher. Always look ahead and see the whole year in front of you , and as Google earth can be flexible in our view, so is our planning can be very helpful in our perspective work: little by little but consistent.

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