Inspiring Students to Work Hard

One thing that teachers come across on a regular basis is students who perhaps lack motivation or focus when it comes to their instrument. This can present many obvious challenges to us, a teacher, because our main goal here is to assist that student in progressing at their chosen instrument and hitting the goals they set themselves.

What can we do as teachers to ensure that our students are motivated:

Provide the student with instant gratification – We certainly don’t want to ever view music education as an instant gratification, we all know the work and dedication that needs to be put in to get results. Sometimes, we need to shift away from this and provide our students with something fun they can do right away. Things like chord progressions or melodies from their favourite songs are a great way of making them get inspired quickly.

Reassure them of their progress – It’s a long road for anyone learning an instrument but sometimes all we need is someone to remind us that we’re doing okay. If a student feels they’ve hit a wall or aren’t getting any further, reassure them that they are doing great and ask them if there is anything they feel in particular is causing their frustration. It could be something simple.

Help them see the bigger picture – It’s easy to think after 12 months that you aren’t as good as you should be. A year is a long time, right? But let’s put that in perspective, perhaps your favourite guitar player is Eric Clapton, or your favourite pianist is Stevie Wonder, they’ve been playing their instruments for much longer than 12 months. Were they at the level we know them to be after just a year? Probably not. Keep pushing and remember that you will always keep learning.

Make a plan for their progress – If you have discovered the source of your student's frustration, this could be anything from a technique issue to a theory problem, make a plan. Map out some small, actionable steps you can take with the student to help them get past their bump in the road. This could be focusing on the technique issue, or re-covering some theory concepts you might have already discussed.

Think outside the box – Don’t let yourself be governed by rules when it comes to overcoming hurdles. As a guitar teacher, when I’ve had students with improvisation or phrasing issues, I have encouraged the students to think of the notes as a sentence of words and syllables so they can visualise what they are trying to play. Use your imagination and try to capture your students' attention and try to find interesting ways to help them.

If we as teachers can provide this support to our students, we can help them through any challenging times they might come across. We are responsible for not only providing knowledge and guidance but also for providing inspiration. Inspire your students to do more and they will surely achieve their goals.

Leigh Fuge, Head of Content, MGR Music