Where to find the motivation to practice (for kids and adults)
We recently held a month long practice competition for iTunes gift cards. This was a huge motivational tool for young students to get in the habit of lengthening their practice times. This competition represents a few important tips when trying to give students the motivation to practice.
1) Students really do respond to rewards. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason behind this rule, some kids just like to be rewarded for doing things they might do otherwise, but just need a little nudge. They have more excitement to do so if in addition to receiving the natural benefits of practicing, they also get a little reward.
2) Students have a competitive edge. In this case, these students don’t even need a reward, they just want the satisfaction of knowing they did better than the competition. These are the students that like to know where they stand so they know how much they need to do to win. In cases other than competition, they will respond to a healthy reminder upon what level they have reached compared to other kids their age. They just simply want to be the best.
3) Students need a routine. When students fall out of practicing, they really will not practice; or, when they practice consistently, they are really consistent. If they get used to practicing for 10 minutes/day, that is what they will do. But when they get to a higher level, they will absolutely need more practice time. The best way to accomplish this is by added just a couple minutes extra to their practice each week. In no time, they will be used to practicing double time than how they began. If they are not practicing at all, a good way to push them in the right direction is sitting down with them each day until they begin to do it on their own. Getting involved with their practice gives the best encouragement to continue the pattern.
4) Students need recognition. Some students do practice on their own consistently and for an appropriate amount of time. They enjoy the experience and challenge of learning their own instrument. I enjoy giving rewards to students like this because it helps reinforce that they have been doing a great job and you do recognize their consistent dedication.
The practice competition was specifically one month because it is said in music, it takes three times (or three lessons) to develop a habit. If the participants were consistant with their practice, it will at least take some time to fall out of the routine they have set up for practicing. Also, once student’s see the results they can experience with extra practice, this may be satisfying enough to have the desire to keep up with their routine and consistently improve.
Adult Students. The above notes also apply to you. Learning a new instrument is like learning a foreign language. You will need to immerse yourself in the language to become fluent. This can be very tedious and trying at times. Simply put, if you maintain the motivation by challenging yourself, giving yourself rewards for your accomplishments, and sticking to a practice schedule, you will be successful!
Please feel free to comment below if you would like specific scenarios or tips on your practicing hurdle….