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The Science Of Motivating Students

Posted by AbbieHumphreys, 28 December 2018 · 137 views

The Science Of Motivating Students
Motivating by the seat of your pants, and why it doesn't work.
For many years, motivating students has been regarded as somewhat of an Art form.

The argument has been that like baking the perfect cake, there is no recipe for inspiring pupils – instead, an almost mystical force is supposed to guide our hands as we pick out each ingredient.
Then, with the voices of our own past teachers still whispering Yoda-like in our ears, we just somehow know how to add these ingredients to the mix. Stir three times clockwise, four counterclockwise, a pinch of salt…and let it sit facing north under a full moon before cooking. Perfect. Suddenly you have a student who practices all day, pausing only for meals and sleep.
To make this argument seem even more compelling, many teachers will have their own tales of spectacular successes from acting on their instincts like this. But however stellar the outcome, there’s a less flattering word that could equally be applied to this whole process.

Hunches. In other words, we try to produce the results we need by guessing. There are better ways to motivate students, believe me.

Now before the abusive emails start to flow, I am prepared to admit that as experienced teachers, we are entitled to our hunches. Many of them will be spot on. But we should recognize them for what they are – and that for every tale of success, there are (usually untold) tales of students who were not moved, preferring their Playstations to their piccolos. And we are left scratching our heads, groping for solutions that will continue to elude us, all because our instincts weren’t equipped to come up with the answer.
This article looks at how teachers can make the process of motivation more of a science and less an unpredictable Art. It shows you how to use structured experimentation to know exactly what is going to fire up your students, rather than having to wait until our personal Muses sprinkle inspiration on our studios, but if you want, you can just order research paper on https://essaybison.c...esearch-papers/. Because sometimes they won’t. You’ll still use your instincts – but you will have fast-tracked the experience that shapes them.
The inspiration for this process has got nothing to do with teaching music at all.

Most of us have a fear of heights, or spiders, or the dark. I’m prepared to own up to all three on occasions. (Would you want to be trapped in a blacked-out tarantula-filled box that is suspended above the grand canyon? See – it’s not just me…)

It’s not irrational. Most of these fears make sense and are encouraging us to avoid things that our instincts scream at us represent the mortal danger.

But some fears don’t seem to be linked directly to our survival. Such as a fear of public speaking. Or elevators. Or kittens.

Of all these phobias, there’s one that can have profound consequences for students who are having a music lesson. And at first glance, it seems to have nothing to do with music.


For a variety of complex reasons, some students decide early on that mathematics is all too hard, and that they’ll never understand what’s going on. Exponentials, averages, fractions, integers… all crammed immediately into a bin labeled “I can’t do this. Never have been able to. Never will.”

And irrespective of what actual mathematical ability that child may have, everything comes to a crashing halt.

While not suggesting there is a direct link (although it’s easy to see how they are cousins), there is a musical equivalent, and it will be affecting some of your students right now.

Some students are scared of rhythms.

Not copying them, or performing them, but working them out in the first place. Often something gets lost in the translation. (That is assuming there actually was an attempt at translation!) It just sits in their too-hard-basket, until it eventually starts to smell.

And if they’re not careful, that can start to make their rest of their work smell too.

The end result? Not only do their rhythms continue to be a muddle, but their enthusiasm for practicing in general plummets.

I think the military terminology is “collateral damage”.

It’s time to put a stop to it. But it has to be done carefully.

Part of being careful means that to start with, we’re not going to think too hard about the rhythms that these students can’t work out. Instead, we’re going to focus on the ones that they can.

Thank you for this article!

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