This post is Part 2 of the two-part series: What Motivates Musicians and Music Students? Here’s a quick recap and then the conclusion of the series:
This goal [creating students who can convey musical meaning] in itself is an intrinsic motivator, for even the youngest of students can appreciate the value of musical meaning and feel important as they learn to create musical meaning. But to encourage this kind of mastery of the instrument, we need to make sure that our incentive programs are reflecting this goal.
Let’s first consider this: What kind of student would be produced by an incentive program that is based upon the number of minutes practiced each day? Answer: The student is motivated to spend more minutes sitting at the piano, but not necessarilyto spend their practice time efficiently and towards the goal of creating musical meaning. To only encourage large amounts of practice time is missing the point. So how do we create incentive programs that encourage students towards the goal of learning to communicate musical meaning?
The best idea I am coming up with right now is to base the incentive program upon how many pieces (or pages, perhaps, since some pieces are longer than others) the students “passes.” Since the teacher has ultimate control over when the student passes (or doesn’t pass) a piece, the student is encouraged to figure out what kind of things the teacher values in their playing in order to do well in the incentive program. That is, the students are more likely to think about what the teacher wants them to improve on in their pieces while they are practicing (aka, the elements that contribute to communicating musical meaning in their pieces). At this point, the student might even (**gasp**) crack open their assignment notebook and read what it says! — try to shape the phrases more, and think about using more arm weight in the forte section, for example.
What do you think? Would an incentive program like this work? What kind of incentive program do you find to be most effective for your students?