Drive – what it is and how to have more of it.

Grace said: Feb 11, 2011
110 posts

What do you think of this article? Are there downfalls of doing too many stickers and rewards? What are some ways you help your students make the transition from sticker charts or “100 Day Clubs” to igniting that inner drive to achieve their best? I think most of us understand the value of fun games and stickers for the preschoolers/Twinklers-set, but at what point and how do you start to make that transition?

To me, that is one of the prime benefits of studying music or a sport—learning how to really push yourself, work hard, and strive for your best. It translates to school, career, pursuing your passions…

Interested in your thoughts & insights…

Barb said: Feb 14, 2011
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

Thanks for sharing this article!

Many of my students really enjoy the charts and stickers. I saw a real change in motivation when I started posting the practice days chart on the bulletin board rather than having the students keep them in their notebooks. Suddenly a few competitive types pulled up their socks to keep up with the keeners.

My adult and teen students find no motivation in the charts, but I HAVE heard from an adult student that she liked getting stickers in her book for pieces learned, and I found that keeping a chart for practice time helped to motivate me not to miss a day!

But I have also seen a young student whose mother always used “rewards” for just about everything, including paying him to practice, become very manipulative and unmotivated.

Hopefully, along the way of giving students stickers and completing charts, internal motivation will also grow. I think words of praise which are truly deserved (specific, relating to work the student has done) is one thing we should make sure not to neglect for all students. While that is still external, I would hope it might be a step towards their recognizing their own success, and lead to internalized motivation.

By the way, one thing I’ve considered is using the charts to accumulate and accomplish AS A GROUP—x number of new pieces learned this year, or X number of days practiced all together! This doesn’t leave any behind, makes all a part of the group, and all can celebrate.

As a 9-10 year old student I was motivated by attaining our violin class’s first chair—being the best. Another girl and I were constantly “challenging” each other. I don’t know what that did to the one who sat at the bottom of the group, though. I know she did not continue with violin past 5th grade.

Then it was playing in the middle school orchestra which motivated me—being a part of the group, and further to that, I attended the high school orchestra concerts—could I ever be THAT good? HOW I looked forward to high school just to play in that orchestra. :) And THEN, the auditioned small ensemble and symphony… And there, I was motivated to not be the one which might have held the group back.

But somewhere in there I wanted to play well for the music’s sake, too. Still, I think my teacher was frustrated that I was more interested in the orchestral music than preparing solos. I STILL don’t have any drive to be a soloist, though I can enjoy playing alone by myself. :) Working to get myself sharing my music more.

But I would like to hear from more about how to ignite that passion in my students, especially the ones who are beyond the stickers.

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Christine said: Feb 26, 2011
Christine Goodner
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
Hillsboro, OR
68 posts

I find that older students get motivated by reaching milestones and goals. For example, when my students finish a book and can play all the pieces fluently they receive a certificate of completion from me at the next recital. Other students may have a goal of auditioning for the youth symphony and they work hard to prepare. In general I find if I include the student in the goal setting process they are motivated to work towards it. In general it seems my students make the transition from stickers and charts to goal oriented practice around 3rd or 4th grade (although it really varies from student to student). I wrote a little bit about goal setting in my last blog post Great topic!

Christine Goodner

Studio Website: Brookside Suzuki Strings

Blog: The Suzuki Triangle

“When Love is Deep, Much can be Accomplished” ~ Suzuki

Irene said: Mar 2, 2011
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

As a parent, what keeps me motivated is the upcoming concert. Preparing my 30 month old for bowing on the E string. As for her, I think she was very happy when she, for the first time, attended group lesson, followed instruction , bowed and everyone clapped their hands. First time she attended group lesson and did not cry. The first two group lessons were disastrous. I am not sure if that motivated her at all, but it did made her very happy that she sang from afternoon till bedtime.
Stickers worked for a while. Now it is a cookie.

said: Aug 12, 2011
 145 posts

This is such a great topic, we can learn so much from our own experiences.
I think the three things that really helped me get motivated were:

Working towards exams

Learning with a teacher who really taught me technique, because I felt I wasnt really being taught properly for years and then I started learning with an ex Dorothy Delay student and he just really knew how to help me improve.

Preparing for orchestral courses that I did in the holidays

Patricia said: Aug 12, 2011
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Martinsville, NJ
58 posts

When I first started teaching—I used stickers, candy anything I could find to motivate my students….. then I realized how much it was costing me and found out that my students just threw their trinket into their violin bag and forgot about it once they walked out the door. So, I decided to save some more—or better worded—move some money from trinket rewards to bigger things. For younger students—they might need “rewards” for: 1.) cooperating throughout a lesson with the teacher; 2.) practicing daily at home; 3.) showing respectful behavior during group classes….. for older students—their rewards are usually just for getting the practicing done at home.

I have lot’s of motivators now—but they aren’t stickers or candy. As I wrote on another post—I have 2 students with JD and really don’t want to use candy as a motivator. (but I have in the past and know many a great teacher who still uses it…. maybe I am wrong for saying I don’t use food? I have pizza Parties, ice cream playdowns? I just don’t have candy out…. but throughout this summer—everyone knew there were fruit bars in the freezer if they got so hot they were going to pass out… I use food in a different way). I have group class weekly and monthly events—so I tell students—that if they get 6 hours of practicing in this week—I will juggle the rhythm blocks at group or we will play some game at group….. or we will have dress up day and get the costumes out. They love thinking they can influence what will happen in a group class…. for the older students—I tell the groups that certain songs I will ask students to lead—they love the thought that they can stand in front of the class and act like teacher…. (yes, sometimes, I get a student who acts goofy—but then again they probably are mimicking me). When I do get “rewards”—they are 1.) CD’s; 2.) Books; 3.) Violin things—nice rosins, mutes, metronomes; 4.) Craft things—violin beach shirts, violin pins for moms; violin napkin holder (we make these at a party) 5.) Meeting at a concert and getting Joshua’s autograph afterwards’ 6.) music jewelry… These rewards are for performing a Graduation Recital; Playing a Solo for their entire school; Performing on their own for a Nursing Home. I want to reward the teenagers for doing it themselves and not waiting to be asked.

I think the greatest reward is to be able to perform and do everything I can to get every student playing….. I have a few students who have alot of learning disabilities—I still find ways to make them shine with their violin. Some of my teenagers come in and say—so & so group is making a tour to —somewhere—why don’t we? I ask them how much their parents will have to pay for this “tour” and when they tell me—I tell them a “Real Musical Tour” is one where you come home with more money in your pocket then you left with.
I wish that instead of so many places thinking the only thing they can do is make parents pay so their child can travel to —- to play violin—THESE TEACHERS would make sure every students family have season tickets to their local symphonies? I feel so bad when a student comes to see me—they are trying to play Vivaldi a minor (not well) and in the process of talking with them find out they have never seen a real live violinist play? well, I digressed…. I guess I am tired so off to bed for me. Good topic.

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