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Monday, February 29, 2016

You Can't Make Me Do It! (Or Can You?)

This is the last in our series of discussions about environment, and although we have not yet said everything there is to say about this topic, we have covered a lot of ground. If you are interested in revisiting my previous articles about environment, I have posted links below at the end of this article.
"No! I Don't Want to!"

In previous articles we have discussed physical environment and its impact on our teaching and learning "atmosphere." We also discussed briefly about how the concept of time and its impact on our scheduling can impact our environment. I would like to discuss now another aspect of our psychological environment: motivation.

What is motivation? Motivation is what is inside us that drives us to do something. Motivation is the reason behind any goal-directed behavior. Motivation is what causes us to act:
  • What motivates me to get a drink of water? "I'm thirsty" is usually the motivation behind that behavior.
  • What motivates a student to practice?
    • "I want to get better." [perfect]
    • "My mom will kill me if I don't." [sad]
    • "My teacher expects it, and I like to please my teacher." [better, still . . .]
  • What motivates parents to sign their child up for music lessons?
    • "I want my child to share my joy in making music." [great]
    • "I want my child to be exposed to as many things as possible, and I heard that music lessons were good." [maybe]
    • "We have a teacher within a short driving distance, and she has a slot that fits our needs." [um, maybe not]
    • "I want to fill my child's heart with beauty." [I hope this parent calls me]
The problem with motivation is that it is internal and invisible to the outside world. We cannot see someone else's motivation; we can only infer motivation from what we see someone do.

As teachers and parents we want our students and children to be motivated to do well at lessons and practices. How can we motivate them to do that?
The Joy of Music

 Dr. Suzuki is often quoted as saying, "Man is the son of his environment." Dr. Suzuki recognized the value of the environment. This is a subject that bears thinking about and discussing at great length. One article will not cover the subject to its very edges. We can, however, still bring up several good ideas.

What motivates students to learn? To practice? To want to play an instrument? Here is a partial list of possibilities to add music to the environment and strengthen the motivational building block:
  • Listen to good music (recordings, concerts, videos)
  • Observe good performances (concerts, videos)
  • Arrange home recitals or other community performance events (local shopping center, grocery store, town market days)
  • Attend or organize talent shows or school performance events
  • Observe other student lessons and performances
  • Observe and attend group classes where the student can observe other role models and even serve as a role model as well for younger or less experienced students
  • Attend performances given by the teacher, who is also a good performance role model
On the home front, there are several things that parents could include in home practices to bolster motivation:
  • set goals for learning and practices
    • create a practice plan and method for following through
    • teach how to set goals and work to achieve them
  • offer applause and appreciation
  • show enthusiasm and excitement
  • be fascinated and curious
  • discover and experiment
  • say kind words
  • smile and laugh
  • give love, affection, and hugs
  • create quality time and quantity time (in other words, lots of quality time!)
As you can see, the possibilities to create, build, and fuel motivation are limitless. If we were to focus on ways to create and maintain an environment that encourages motivation, we would be able to come up with even more ideas. Please write me comments that suggest other ways that you have found to motivate your students or your children to want to be involved in this fabulous world of beautiful music.

If you were interested in reading the previous articles that I posted recently about environment, you may find them below:

Studio Focus: Environment: This article discusses how focusing on our environment might impact behavior and learning.

Studio Focus: Physical Environment: This article argues that when we are mindful, aware, and observant about our environment, mood, and energy, we will have a favorable impact on our teaching, practicing, and learning environment.

Studio Focus: Physical Environment and Timing: This article considers how time and timing impacts our environment.

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----

© 2016 by Paula E. Bird

13 comments:

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  2. I suppose one could learn anything without a teacher/tutor, but how could a person be sure that they were doing it correctly without expert guidance? I have begun students of all ages, even retirement age, and it is possible to take lessons through video and Skype. Indeed, I work with several students in this manner and quite successfully. It is possible to learn without a teacher/tutor, but I recommend that the student check in regularly with an expert teacher to be sure that the student is following the right path to correct standards. This will ensure that students have minimal frustration, maintain steady progress, and keep motivated and challenged appropriately. Thanks for writing!

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    1. I hope to hear from you again! Thanks for commenting! Check out the new Teach Suzuki Podcast on iTunes as well. You can find current episodes at teachsuzuki.com

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