Lots of variables go into what motivates students to practice. Students often weigh the perceived cost of spending time practicing versus participating in extracurricular or recreational activities. Peers and family have a tremendous influence on whether students have long-term performance goals that can motivate them to practice.
Instructional environment impacts student practice. There needs to be a good balance of repertoire requiring new skills and repertoire that does not require new skills. Adding repertoire or adding new challenges to existing repertoire can help maintain student interest as they prepare for performances. Getting creative has its rewards.
Both private and school orchestra teachers need to use instructional time to educate students how to practice every week. Practice that is focused, structured, and includes specific strategies will improve performance and motivate students to continue their music studies. They can truly learn to enjoy practicing if they discover that success is a result of their efforts.
“It’s a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get,” said Arnold Palmer. If students are encouraged and expected to practice productively, we will all be winners.
Adapted from Patti Fleer’s “You must teach your students how to practice” in the Fall 2011 issue of the Missouri School School Music Magazine. Used with permission.
Read Part 1 of this series.
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—Gregory Reinfeld, October 26, 2011. © National Association for Music Education