Jason Bernstein, of the Piano Lessons World website, has a helpful post on How to Motivate Your Kids to Practice Their Instrument. He shares 6 specific ideas that are great for parents looking for practical tips on how to help their child be successful. In particular, I really appreciate #2 – Participate in Performance Opportunities. This has proved to be one of the most motivating elements in my studio. Students who attend group classes regularly and play for other students develop a great deal of confidence in their playing and are usually eager to work on polishing a piece for this purpose.
In addition, I have had numerous students come back after participating in our big annual Christmas Recital and be extra driven to learn new music and become more skilled in their playing. There’s nothing quite like watching other students perform really cool-sounding pieces well to make you want to work harder and play better the next time. And perhaps one of the most memorable expressions of this came after our 2010 Christmas Recital when my long-time student, Isabella, exclaimed to me during the reception, “Wow. I really need to kick-it-up-a-notch!” Her comment sparked an idea and last summer we launched our first-ever Kick-It-Up-a-Notch! summer piano intensive. Just last week at her lesson she was talking about the incredible progress she made from the 2010 Christmas recital to the 2011 Christmas recital and remarked that Kick-It-Up-a-Notch! was a huge turning point for her.
As I think back on the whole process for Isabella, it’s really neat to see how one thing spurs on another, all contributing to a student’s motivation and development as a musician. You never know what great experience or event will spark the drive to do better in your child or student, so make the most of whatever opportunities you have! And, as Jason points out in another of his tips, “if you stick with it, they will get something out of it and almost surely begin to truly enjoy what they have learned.”