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#939158 - 11/11/03 06:04 PM Motivating students to practice
Tavner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/01
Posts: 376
Loc: San Diego
I know this is a perennial topic that most teachers face. What are your various techniques, psychological ploys, inducements, etc. for getting your students to practice consistently? I've only been teaching for a relatively short time so I am still learning what works and what doesn't.

I've found that sometimes switching lesson/technique/performance and even theory books helps to increase practice time with some students. But, some students do not respond at all to a change in "scenery". Also, having a chat with the parents about practicing consistently ("Johnny/Susie can find at least 30 minutes a day to practice, can't they?") often helps. Finally, setting a date for a recital program usually makes the student put in the practice time needed to play a piece adequately. Afterwards, I struggle with the tendency to backslide to former habits.

In the end, my experience has been that some students are so unmotivated to learn piano and are only being forced to by their parents that the bare minimum of practice is all you can expect. I hate to have a defeatist attitude, but it happens. Anyone have any further suggestions about this topic? Sometimes I wish I had a magic wand and could make "Gameboys" disappear from the face of the earth! That would be a good start. Yes, I know, video games develop hand-eye coordination which should translate to the keyboard, but what incredible time wasters they can be.
_________________________
Tavner

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#939159 - 11/11/03 11:04 PM Re: Motivating students to practice
Beauville Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/07/03
Posts: 38
Loc: Mid-Atlantic
Sometimes the change in scenery needs to be in the day-to-day of the method books. Have you tried using sheet music? You might want to consider using the "pupil-savers" listed often in Clavier. Around this time of year, holiday music has a marked tendency to motivate students.

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#939160 - 11/12/03 04:34 PM Re: Motivating students to practice
Archer1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/03
Posts: 41
Loc: texas
I state clearly my objectives and expectations of my students in my studio policy. In my policy, I list for the different age groups tips on how to practice effectively and how long I expect them to practice each week. I also state in the policy that I have the rights to dismiss any student at any time who I feel does not meet these expectations. I have both the parent and the student sign the policies on the first day of lesson. And the child is sent home with a copy of the signed policy. If a child comes to lessons twice unprepared, I give them a verbal warning and send home a note to the parents that if by the next lesson the policy rules are not followed, I will terminate the contract between child and parent. Thus, far, I have not had to dismiss any child.

Now for just motivators to a child, at every lesson I always emphasize the positive. Even if it’s as simple as "I'm so proud of you, you had your fingers nicely curved throughout this entire piece." "That last measure was excellent!" etc. Giving complements will boost both the child’s moral and spirit.

Another thing is popular music. Try to give your student something popular to play. I have seen this to be a big motivator. The student might come to a lesson with his method assignments fairly learned and the popular piece perfect. This is a big plus - it shows that the child does want to learn. You do however have to find a piece that the child wants to play. It seems the two most popular these days are "Hedwigs Theme" from Harry Potter and "In Dreams" from Lord of the Rings. I have one girl who loves "Back to your Heart" by the Backstreet Boys. I searched everywhere for this piece for piano and couldn't find it. I finally purchased the Backstreet Boys cd, listened to the melody, wrote the melody out and wrote in a simple left-hand accompaniment. At the next lesson, this young girl was just so overjoyed.
She now requests other songs for me to write out. I have seen remarkable improvements in every lesson we have together.

Most piano teachers want to focus on classics. Yes this is important. But for a lot of students, this just isn't their thing. Find out if they want to focus on classics, jazz, pop, country, etc. Tell your students that you will work with them to make this the focal point of their curriculum but they will have to study out of at least one classical repertoire book - after all classical music is the foundation for all music. I only do this with my kids that are 10 and older. My six to nine year olds are too young to know what type of music they really want to learn yet. Sometimes I will have an older student who is not sure or cares. So I will start off with classical and if their interest changes, than I will change the focus of our curriculum.

Now a couple of questions for you. What are your expectations for your students? Whatever they are - have you communicated these expectations clearly. Perhaps your expectations are too high. Do you want your student to be perfect at each lesson? If this is the case, you may want to back off a bit and find a middle space to work with. For example a lot of teachers expect young students as young as five and six to spend 30 minutes per day practicing. I think this is the biggest mistake a teacher can make with a child this young. A child that is 5-7 years old has very little attention span. So I like to assign five to 10 minute practice times only four times per week. The next time you have a 5,6, or 7 year old in your studio - watch and see if they start fidgeting and getting a glare in their eyes after 10 to 15 minutes. As the child gets older, than start increasing their practice period as well as the number of days to practice.

How long are you keeping your student in each lesson that you assign? Again are you expecting perfection. Keeping a student on the same lesson for more than three weeks is definitely a motivator killer. Children like new things. They don’t like repetition. There is a difference between a teaching piece and a piece of serious repertoire. If you have the ideal student, you will cover a lesson per week. But sometime for the average student you might have to cover the same lesson for two weeks. What I like to do with a student who has to repeat a lesson and did not play up to par - is to test his knowledge of the concepts taught in a lesson. If for instance, you were teaching a lesson on perfect intervals, or arpeggiated chords and the pieces you assigned was a bit shaky, I would ask the student “Can you identify all the perfect intervals in this piece? Can you name all the perfect intervals? Now play all the perfect intervals for me.” If the student can do this, even though the piece was not as good as you would like it to be. I would consider this a successful lesson. The student may not have played perfectly but he understood the concepts - so move onto the next lesson. If you have a student that has to repeat a lesson for a third time - than you may have to stop and review the previous lessons or you may have to find other pieces that present the same concepts for the student to play instead of having him once again go over old material.
Now with serious repertoire - this is a different story. It wouldn’t be unusual for a student to have to spend anywhere from eight weeks to six months working on something such as a Bach Invention. Yes a student will grow tired of this repetition, but that’s where you keep the fun pieces rolling in while they are studying a serious piece.
Blessings

Ruth

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#939161 - 11/12/03 05:54 PM Re: Motivating students to practice
Tavner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/01
Posts: 376
Loc: San Diego
Thanks, Ruth, for your insights and suggestions! I can tell you have quite a bit of teaching experience. You've given me a few new ideas to try out.
_________________________
Tavner

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#939162 - 11/14/03 06:36 AM Re: Motivating students to practice
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Tavner,

A child loves to play, that is repeat a thing to increase his feeling of mastering a certain difficulty.

He can repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat all over again. This is when he learns most.

The whole secret is to get into his self-empowerment zone : maybe it is a song that he loves (one that means a lot to him, like a lullaby or a nonsense song) and that you can use as a workshop for introducing each element when he gets bored with the previous one.

Playing with each hand the melody
Playing in a round (Frere Jacques)
Playing with a melody in counterpoint
Playing with chords
Playing with three voices

You must always put value on what is a joy for him. There must not be a sense of effort, duty or learning. Children love discovering things. But they must build an enormous confidence before they will really love this strange piece of furniture with black and white keys and so many of them, my God.

Start with music he knows and loves. Music that is part of who he is.

If you get the child into a real path toward mastery of what moves him, he will not work. He will play. That is what a child lives for.

But have no fear. His parents will really believe he is working.
_________________________
Benedict

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#939163 - 11/15/03 11:37 AM Re: Motivating students to practice
Tavner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/01
Posts: 376
Loc: San Diego
Thanks, Benedict, for your response. You make some very good ones, especially with respect to viewing things through a child's eyes. I'll have to keep your thoughts in mind as I teach.
_________________________
Tavner

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#939164 - 11/15/03 12:14 PM Re: Motivating students to practice
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
And your child students (clients) will bless you and transmit this blessing to their own children.

\:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#939165 - 12/06/03 10:26 PM Re: Motivating students to practice
ebony & ivory Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/03
Posts: 30
Loc: Andover, Minnesota
You're right about their losing motivation! I have found with most of my students (particularily the younger ones) that motivating them with tangible rewards is very helpful. The really little kids like stickers (under 5) and I keep a stash of automatic and pop-a-point pencils on hand for the rest. They know that they get to choose one every time they hit the staples and the end of the book. Sometimes this has to be adjusted if they're working out of more than one book. I have kids that really work hard to get to those staples! This is inexpensive and they really like to earn them! Also, I do let them pick one song to work on "just for fun" even if it is below their ability. I have found letting them play too many things that aren't in lesson books (before they're ready) really botches up their fingering habits, too much stretching and over-under stuff. Hope this helps!

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#939166 - 12/28/03 06:34 AM Re: Motivating students to practice
Suds Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/28/03
Posts: 2
I've been teaching adults to play songs by ear for over twenty years, have over twenty thousand students, and have found that, more than any other variable, that factor which most affects motivation is for students to have a clear sense of exactly what they can expect in the way of results. When a student is made to understand that this and then that will follow, and that will lead to some next place, and understands how the sequence of steps are unified into a learning process - in other words when the mystery of the unfolding learning process is dissipated - then motivation increases the most. I just thought I'd add this to the current thread. I don't think it's the kind of music made, but the ways in which whatever is being learned will work - an understanding of the learning process - this has made the most difference for my 'ear playing students'.

Thanks
David Sudnow

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#939167 - 01/21/04 11:39 PM Re: Motivating students to practice
iteachlifeskills Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 23
Loc: Toronto, ON Canada
I use a "Student of the Month" scheme incorporating my "11 Great Reasons to Practice". You can check it out at http://www.hamelschoolofmusic.com/reasons.html

Basically, students earn points for each of the 11 categories such as:
Technique
New Songs passed
Repertoire maintained
Memory Songs
Variety (such as pop/ jazz/ country)
Sight Reading
Ear Tests
Theory
Performance

Students are divided into grade classifications as follows:

Beginners
Grades 1-3
Grades 4-6
Grades 7-10

There is a Student of the Month chosen for each classification

Each week, I post the cumulative point totals. You had better believe IT IS EXCITING to hear the students come in and run to the bulletin board to see where they stand.

And do you want to know who gets the MOST EXCITED?

The PARENTS!!!

Let me tell you. Get those parents sold on Student of the Month, and they will MAKE SURE the kids practice at home!

Oh, yeah... another reason the parents have a vested interest in this...

If their child earns Student of the Month honors, their lesson fees do not get raised!

Parents are happy!
Kids are practicing and playing better than ever!
I'm getting more referrals!

Everyone is WINNING!!!

For those of you who can't be bothered with the extra work... think again.

I've never had more fun teaching in my entire 32 year career. If you are interested, write me for more details on how to set this up.

No More Forced Practice in Toronto,
Russ

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#939168 - 02/15/04 01:43 PM Re: Motivating students to practice
Rob Mullins Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/10/04
Posts: 313
Loc: LA CA
Hi,
So far, two things seem to work for me with students regarding this issue:
1. Find a song the student really gets fired up about and get them working on it. Enthusiasm hits a high level when the music is something they really think is cool, and,
2. I play for the students when they are getting really bored. I mean, really PLAY for them. I am lucky to have a very good 9' piano in my teaching room which is a 100 person recital hall. Sometimes just hitting some big low notes on that piano has the effect of bringing students right to attention because the piano sound is so loud and huge. I will play something in the genre they are interested and do several approaches on the song and throw in some dazzle-that often brings them out of the boredom daze they sometimes fall into.
I realize these things might not work on really young kids, but I don't take those students very often and it looks like the posts above cover that area beautifully.
_________________________
Rob Mullins
www.planetmullins.com
28th album on sale now.

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#939169 - 02/16/04 02:06 AM Re: Motivating students to practice
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Hi Tavner,

Your topic has harvested some enterprising ideas especially that of Ruth (Archer1) who, in spite of a threatening "dismissal" opening, hits home at the most potent catalyst to the motivation of students to practice, namely popular music - a piece that the student WANTS TO PLAY.

Use of "Hedwig's Theme" and "In Dreams" sound amazingly with it - but what really caught my eye was Ruth's "beyond the call" vision in buying a CD of "Back to your Heart" by the Backstreet Boys (being unable to find the music) and going to the trouble of picking out the melody and adding a simple LH accompaniment to please a little girl. Amazing!! No wonder the child was overjoyed!

Other advice on clear and realistic expectations, sustaining interest (avoiding repetition) and gentle prodding of the pupil of the "flat-spots" point to a top-line teacher with rare acumen.

Scrub round all those ideas of making a big thing out of the learning process and descending to handing out rewards. Reminds of the ominous opening of Charles Dickens' "Hard Times when Mr Gradgrind advises the new school-teacher Mr. M'Choakumshild:

"Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts; nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!"

Russ as usual bangs his advertising drum and completely loses the plot. His teaching shortcuts personal interest in the student - he exploits competition which might be good for exciting an athlete to break 10s but hardly the right atmosphere for conveying the nuances of a Chopin Nocturne. You can't teach an art-form en masse. Each student is very different.

Rob Mullins is on the mark. He reinforces Ruth's use of a popular song to boost enthusiasm. But there's nothing quite like a bit of Rob's dazzling showmanship at the grand to rouse the spirits of the student.

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#939170 - 02/25/04 01:23 PM Re: Motivating students to practice
iteachlifeskills Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 23
Loc: Toronto, ON Canada
The topic of this thread is motivating students to practice. Suddenly
the scene shifts to art appreciation. And I'm the one who "completely
loses the plot"? Interesting.

Based on one tiny fragment of my teaching program (specifically, my
method of motivating students to practice) btb goes on to conclude
that the atmosphere in my school is not conducive to "conveying the
nuances of a Chopin Nocturne."

Imagine a child handing his mother a simple drawing. Most mothers I
know would immediately embrace the child, praising and thanking him
for his creation. As further proof of appreciation, the drawing would
then be posted on the refrigerator or other prominent place in the
home for all to see. Quite predictably, the child runs to his room to
make another drawing. If that isn't motivation, then I am truly clued
out.

However, in btb's world, I envision Mom looking at the picture with
disdain and sending the child back to his room, telling him not to
come out until he produced a Mona Lisa. "You colored outside the
lines. The head is too big. There is no sense of form, balance and
understanding of the use of shading in your work." And this is
supposed to motivate the child to do better?

It is exactly this type of intolerance that rendered poor teachers out
of artistic geniuses like Mozart and Beethoven. Throughout this and
other similar forums, I see the recurring theme of frustration and
bitterness among teachers as they refuse to give up the almighty art
form and come down to where the student is at the moment.

I agree with btb on this point: "You can't teach an art-form en
masse". While it might be nice to have only those 'golden nugget'
students who strive to be concert artists; who are fascinated with the
intricacies of a Bach fugue; who long to understand the nuances of a
Chopin Nocturne; the reality is that you have to sift through a LOT of
sand to find those rare nuggets.

Personally, I have no problem getting down in the trenches with the
"masses". That's how I eat and put a roof over my head. Teaching
isn't something I fall back on while I'm waiting for the next concert
gig to come up.

I know my market. Like Ruth, I interview my prospective students
before they begin lessons. Most of my students arrive with very
simple and basic expectations - to get involved in a wholesome,
worthwhile activity and have fun doing it. I have NEVER had a
prospect come to me with the expectation of becoming a concert artist.

Furthermore, the vast majority of my students will go on to careers
that have absolutely nothing to do with music. They are quite
satisfied to have developed enough skills to independently build a
repertoire of songs they enjoy playing for themselves and their close
circle of family and friends. Many of my former students tell me they
play more now that their formal studies are over because they can
focus on the songs they like.

I also know my limitations. I don't pretend to be Juilliard. I don't
promise to make little Mozarts out of every student who enrolls at my
school. And if I did have a prospect come to me with the expectation
of becoming a concert artist, I would gratefully refer him or her to a
more appropriate instructor. I realize that I am merely a stepping
stone in the early development of a serious music student.

What I do offer is that each person who spends time with me will
develop a greater appreciation for his or her own unique talents and
to have enough self-confidence to respect others. If it takes a
"Point System" to deliver the recognition and appreciation that
students and parents crave and DESERVE; if it motivates my student to
not only come back next week, but to come back PREPARED and EXCITED to
learn more, then I make no apologies. Each time they return, I have
another opportunity to sneak a little culture and art appreciation
into them.

For those open-minded enough to consider a motivation system, here is
an example of how I use points:

First of all, points should be awarded for CORRECT performance. The
teacher sets the parameters for what is "correct". For instance, a
beginner might receive a point for playing a scale with the correct
notes and fingering, while demonstrating proper hand and sitting
position. These same parameters would be insufficient to earn a point
for a grade 8 student who would be encouraged to perform even the
simplest scale as though he were playing the proverbial 'Chopin
Nocturne', demonstrating control of tonal quality, phrasing and touch.

As Ruth suggests, you must lay out the expectations and stick to them.
I tell my students very clearly, "This is what you have to do to earn
a point."

Points used this way gives IMMEDIATE and POSITIVE feedback. It's the
way students live. They study; they go to school; they get tested;
they get marked; they know where they stand.

Even adult students relate to this. They go to work; they take
courses to advance their position; they get evaluated; they receive
raises; they know where they stand.

And by posting the points on the bulletin board for everyone to see,
it's just like the mother who tapes the child's drawing on the
refrigerator. Far from being the exploitation of competition
as btb suggests, it is more of a sign of appreciation for even the
smallest efforts.

BTW, if you want to see some serious, cut-throat competition, try
applying to the Juilliards of the world; or have a song published; or
establish yourself as an artist. Unfortunately, while these folks are
waiting for their chance at the brass ring; to have their name
whispered with reverence among the artistic elite; they attempt to
instill their lofty ideals through teaching upon indifferent minds
without first trying to find out what motivates their charges.

In the meantime, I'll continue to bang my trusty advertising drum and
appeal to the masses. You won't hear me bemoan the fact that my
students lack motivation or hate to practice. I'm happy to join my
students, wherever they are, and travel with them for a short while on
their journey through life. If their road to music development takes
them past my humble bus-stop, I'll be grateful that I was able to open
the door and point them in the right direction.

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#939171 - 02/26/04 10:27 PM Re: Motivating students to practice
minsmusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/14/04
Posts: 24
Loc: Australia
 Quote:
Originally posted by btb:
Hi Tavner,

Your topic has harvested some enterprising ideas especially that of Ruth (Archer1) who, in spite of a threatening "dismissal" opening, hits home at the most potent catalyst to the motivation of students to practice, namely popular music - a piece that the student WANTS TO PLAY.

Use of "Hedwig's Theme" and "In Dreams" sound amazingly with it - but what really caught my eye was Ruth's "beyond the call" vision in buying a CD of "Back to your Heart" by the Backstreet Boys (being unable to find the music) and going to the trouble of picking out the melody and adding a simple LH accompaniment to please a little girl. Amazing!! No wonder the child was overjoyed!

Other advice on clear and realistic expectations, sustaining interest (avoiding repetition) and gentle prodding of the pupil of the "flat-spots" point to a top-line teacher with rare acumen.

Scrub round all those ideas of making a big thing out of the learning process and descending to handing out rewards. Reminds of the ominous opening of Charles Dickens' "Hard Times when Mr Gradgrind advises the new school-teacher Mr. M'Choakumshild:

"Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts; nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!"

Russ as usual bangs his advertising drum and completely loses the plot. His teaching shortcuts personal interest in the student - he exploits competition which might be good for exciting an athlete to break 10s but hardly the right atmosphere for conveying the nuances of a Chopin Nocturne. You can't teach an art-form en masse. Each student is very different.

Rob Mullins is on the mark. He reinforces Ruth's use of a popular song to boost enthusiasm. But there's nothing quite like a bit of Rob's dazzling showmanship at the grand to rouse the spirits of the student. [/b]
Why did you bother writing this if you had nothing of your own to add? You know, teachers don't need to be critiqued on their responses to a piano forum on the internet. They're trying to help. The topic was, What are YOUR techniques? Teachers have offered what works for them. Maybe their advice will work for Tavner too. At least let Tavner decide for him/herself.

Tavner, motivational techniques differ for each student and each age group. My young child students LOVE getting stickers and stamps. I use many different ones, 'keep trying' 'improved' 'ver good' excellent' - some students aren't happy until they've practised enough to get an 'excellent' sticker. Others are okay with an 'improved'and then want to move on. I also hand out pencils, bookmarks, etc for greater achievement for the students aged 9,10, 11. For some teenagers, encouragement and praise is all that's needed to keep them practising.

I have lots of different sheets with grouped numbers. This represents minutes. I say to the student, if you've practised for five minutes, tick the 5(or for the very young they get to colour in pictures)15 minutes, tick the 15 etc. THen add up all the numbers for the week, write down the total. That total then gets transferred to a line graph, with minutes up the vertical, and weeks along the horizontal. Their number is placed with a star sticker. At a glance they (their parents and me) get to see how well they've been going. They are disappointed if their line graph 'dips' one week. They always do better the next week.

I was amazed by how well competitions work! I made up a very special sheet (similar to the one above, but full of colour and different shapes etc). THen I bought a bag full of little presents - 1st prize, 2nd prize and 3rd prize. They got to see the 'bags' every week for a while, but weren't allowed to look in them. Well, after the holidays, they came back with records of 5 hours, 6 hours etc. They girl who won, did over 10 hours! And it showed. Her pieces were brilliant!!!

For older students, nothing motivates more than knowing that in four weeks, they'll have to perform in front of people. Recitals are great. I organsie a 'performance' opportunity every 12 weeks. This includes a formal setting, (they have to dress up), busking, playing at Nursing homes, 'piano parties', duets nights etc.

I also enrol older students in exams. Eisteddfods would also be good.

These are some things that have worked in my studio. Experiment and see which ones work for you. :p

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#2236713 - 02/24/14 10:03 AM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: Tavner]
coeu91 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/11/13
Posts: 3
My method is a lot more basic.
I write up a monthly ultimate playlist.
Basically 10 youtube video links that have some truly awesome and insane piano playing, piano playing where you can actually see the person playnig, not just an audio recording, we're talking Valentina Lisista Islamey etc.
Every list will have some form of comedy performance aswell (Victor Borge) and some great improvising (Harry the piano.
Each list will also have the most insane/beautiful/difficult piece I can find that is of the same composer that the student is currently learning for example, Debussy - Fireworks etc. It doesn't matter that the pieces on this list are too difficult and at a different level to the learner, it just inspires the student to keep going.
I keep getting pestered at the moment just to set up a youtube account and make up playlists via that so I know that it is definitely working!
The stuff on these playlists isnt always the best written music or life changing music, it literally is as simple as finding a video where it looks really impressive.
One student of mine watched Lisistas Islamey video, spotted her strength in her forearms and now religiously practises his exercises and stamina, as well as joining the gym because he wanted strength just like hers.

In addition to this, give the students pieces that they actually want to learn.

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#2236735 - 02/24/14 10:57 AM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: coeu91]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Wow, in another 2 days, this topic would have been 10 years exactly since the last post. Of course, it's a timeless topic, so perhaps with new forum participants, we can get some new ideas.

However, IMO, it's not motivating students to practice so much as it's motivating them to practice correctly. I was literally tearing out what's left of my hair this weekend, listening to students making the same mistakes in recital which we had gone over and over and over and over.

I would certainly like some new ideas on how to solve this problem. Thanks.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2236742 - 02/24/14 11:13 AM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11700
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Wow, in another 2 days, this topic would have been 10 years exactly since the last post. Of course, it's a timeless topic, so perhaps with new forum participants, we can get some new ideas.
LOL That's what I thought!

Quote:
However, IMO, it's not motivating students to practice so much as it's motivating them to practice correctly. I was literally tearing out what's left of my hair this weekend, listening to students making the same mistakes in recital which we had gone over and over and over and over.

I would certainly like some new ideas on how to solve this problem. Thanks.


I do think that when you can get your students to actually practice the way you suggest, they will reap rewards and enjoy playing and will practice more. Success breeds success. But getting them to step out on a limb and try what you're asking them to, well, there's only so much you can do if they refuse to try. Often I wonder if those students that don't try just really don't want piano lessons, or think they know better what works for them.

I try having such talks with my students, telling them that if they try my way and it doesn't work they can go back to doing whatever they want - then it's my fault. But if they don't try it, then the fault is theirs for not liking piano or not wanting to practice or whatever the issue is.

John, it seems that you have students who learned the wrong notes and just weren't able to fix them. I'm sure they didn't purposely play it wrong (although that has been known to happen). I would point that out to them, first explaining what you were happy about their performance, and then point out that those wrong notes were still in there because the first few times you play a piece are the most important. If you get it wrong then, it's permanent and will always come back to haunt you. Then I'd work with them on a completely new piece and try to device a new strategy for learning so that they don't get careless or rush through it.
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#2236746 - 02/24/14 11:27 AM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Oh, I'm absolutely certain they didn't play wrong notes on purpose. Most of my students are upper intermediate or above, and of the age where they can take their own notes, annotate their own scores, etc. We use pencil, sticky notes, etc., etc. My suspicion is that they don't mentally review their lesson on the way home, or shortly after arriving home, and further, don't think through a review piece before starting in with their practice, so that, as you say, wrong notes become right notes in their mind (or wrong rhythms, missing rests, etc.) I was so frustrated Sat evening that I nearly started a thread on the subject. But then, in discussing with one student yesterday, I learned that she had been in a major sports game, and was physically and mentally exhausted by the time the recital came around. Well, the only solution to that problem is one which the student's family won't entertain.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2236915 - 02/24/14 04:52 PM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Online   content
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Oh, I'm absolutely certain they didn't play wrong notes on purpose. Most of my students are upper intermediate or above, and of the age where they can take their own notes, annotate their own scores, etc.

Do they do this on their own? Do they discover mistakes, circle them, make notes to themselves?

Mine don't. I ask them to every week, but they have some kind of weird notion that good players don't write in their own books.

When these mistakes creep in, do they most happen with or without score? Are they morphing what they have already memorized, or are they changing things they are looking at without knowing it?
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#2236925 - 02/24/14 05:12 PM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Unfortunately not. I have to tell them, time after time, to take the pencil and circle the note, or annotate the score.

In re discovering mistakes on their own. Many have such poorly tuned instruments that they actually cannot hear mistakes, and so never really learn to listen to themselves. When I do A/B comparisons, they often hear subtle shifts in dynamics or rhythms but completely miss the obvious wrong note or other problem, which I am exaggerating.

Most of the problems are from early on, ie, mistakes learned initially which we've been trying to erase from their ear and finger memory.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2236926 - 02/24/14 05:14 PM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: Tavner]
woodog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 380
Loc: Bowling Green, KY
Originally Posted By: Tavner
...Sometimes I wish I had a magic wand and could make "Gameboys" disappear from the face of the earth! That would be a good start...


That's some wand. They're almost gone now.

Forrest
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Bach WTC 1, C# Major (#3)

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#2236936 - 02/24/14 05:32 PM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: woodog]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: woodog
Originally Posted By: Tavner
...Sometimes I wish I had a magic wand and could make "Gameboys" disappear from the face of the earth! That would be a good start...


That's some wand. They're almost gone now.

You do realize this is a zombie thread. And an ancient one.
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#2236939 - 02/24/14 05:37 PM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: Tavner]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7573
Loc: New York City
John has already pointed out that if the reviver had waited two more days it would have been a decade since the last post on the thread. laugh

There are a slew of these old threads in the Teachers Forum nowadays.
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#2236950 - 02/24/14 06:10 PM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: Tavner]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11648
Loc: Canada
If John wishes to post in this thread to ask a teaching question as he did, he has every right to do so.

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#2236956 - 02/24/14 06:20 PM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: Tavner]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7573
Loc: New York City
It wasn't John who revived it, it was the previous poster. He was just commenting on it.
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#2236960 - 02/24/14 06:25 PM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: Tavner]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
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Loc: Canada
I didn't read far enough back.

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#2236974 - 02/24/14 06:48 PM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Unfortunately not. I have to tell them, time after time, to take the pencil and circle the note, or annotate the score.

Yup. It sometimes changes when I make the point, over and over again, that not writing anything is the sign of a POOR student.
Quote:

In re discovering mistakes on their own. Many have such poorly tuned instruments that they actually cannot hear mistakes, and so never really learn to listen to themselves. When I do A/B comparisons, they often hear subtle shifts in dynamics or rhythms but completely miss the obvious wrong note or other problem, which I am exaggerating.

There is a larger point to this. My students think that they can take time off in the summer and by just continuing to practice now and then they will still continue to make some progress. They never realize that their playing degrades without someone around to catch the new, morphing mistakes that crop in addition to the old ones.
Quote:

Most of the problems are from early on, ie, mistakes learned initially which we've been trying to erase from their ear and finger memory.

That's a hard thing to get across. Once the brain has two places to go, a right place and a wrong place (same with rhythms), it becomes unsure what to do, so there is a glitch. It took me YEARS to fully fix some glitches I got as a young student because they were not corrected.
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#2237071 - 02/24/14 09:18 PM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: AZNpiano]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7344
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA



Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
You do realize this is a zombie thread. And an ancient one.


_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2237119 - 02/24/14 10:23 PM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: Tavner]
woodog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 380
Loc: Bowling Green, KY
Good ideas, and bad ones too, are timeless

Yes, i realized it was an old thread laugh

The game boy thing made me grin.
_________________________
Graham Fitch's Piano Pedagogy Site
(A WORTHY RESOURCE!)

--------------------
current studies:
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque
Beethoven Op. 78
Bach WTC 1, C# Major (#3)

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#2237178 - 02/25/14 01:09 AM Re: Motivating students to practice [Re: Tavner]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
If at least one of the teachers I like is commenting, now, I don't care if the thread is 1000 years old if it is interesting.
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