Motivating Students to Practice

A few tips to pass along to your students' parents

I recently came across an article by Timothy McKenry, Professor of Music at Australian Catholic University, which gives some great tips to parents for motivating their children to practice.

The tips are primarily aimed at parents of young children, but I think much of the information could be applied to older "kids" as well. I also think those of us who teach music can always benefit from adding new tools to our motivational bag of tricks.

Mr. McKenry touches on one of my pet peeves in the article: Praising students for effort rather than talent. As he explains it:

Praising a child for being talented reinforces a fixed mindset around musical ability. If a child believes people are either talented or not talented, they are likely to view their own struggles with learning music as evidence they aren’t talented.

If you're not up to date on the latest research regarding fixed versus growth mindsets, I highly recommend spending a few minutes with Google and reading up. I think it's so important that educators understand and teach from this perspective.

Here is the link to McKenry's article. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful!

Happy practicing (and teaching)!

Mark Flegg

Dr. Mark Flegg is the creator of Dr. Flegg's Structured Practice Method. He holds degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music, Arizona State University, and Michigan State University. An active free-lance performer and educator, he is the Principal Trumpet with the Flint and Saginaw Symphonies, and has been a trumpet instructor at Saginaw Valley State University and Wayne State University.

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