Motivating students is a constant challenge for piano teachers. Keeping them interested and engaged while learning an instrument that takes SO MUCH practice to master is one of the hardest parts of our job and this is why parental support is so crucial.
Students who aren’t motivated by all the work the piano takes usually begin to wonder why they are doing this. They aren’t yet playing the level of music that supplies its own intrinsic reward to the player. Often they think about quitting. They lack a goal.
Coming to a lesson, getting an assignment and practicing for your next lesson doesn’t sound like a good long-term plan to me. When I took lessons as a child, I never connected with my teacher and she never connected with me. I went home and practiced the assignments but never played in a single recital, never played a single game in lessons, never felt encouraged, and never learned to take pride in my skill. I never even knew she had other students and certainly never had the chance to take part in any parties or group activities or public performances. What a shame. (Now you know why these things are so important to me today, as a teacher!)
Students need something to focus on; they need a goal. Heck, I need a goal myself as a business owner. Students need to be actively engaged in their own learning process. Coming to a lesson only to practice for the next lesson is a passive way of learning and it didn’t motivate me as a child or as a teen, that’s for sure.
Setting and achieving goals is not just a piano lesson, it’s an important life lesson. Learning that they are capable of setting and achieving goals is a skill they can use for every situation they encounter in their lifetime. Having pride in what they do and knowing they can accomplish anything they set their mind to is empowering. Where there is a will, there is a way. I believe this absolutely.
This month my students are sitting down with their parents choosing and discussing the piano goals they will be setting for the coming academic year. Their goal sheets will be placed in their lesson binders to provide focus and to draw their attention to what they are working toward achieving by the end of the academic year.
Is there a reward involved? No, they’ll just be satisfied with the intrinsic value of achievement.
Don’t be silly, OF COURSE there is an award. These are CHILDREN we are dealing with, not philosophers! Show me anyone who doesn’t want recognition for their hard work.