Motivation: How Involved Are You? (part 3)


This brings me to the last level and that is the Most Involved. Parents on this level are aware of the importance of music study but are also very much aware of the process (time and effort) involved with this commitment. In this level, parents have developed a habit of creating non-threatening expectations for the given commitment. Parents might make it a habit to ask the student to play for you in the evening, maybe 3 days out of the week, not with the intention to judge, but simply because you enjoy seeing your child involved in this activity. Parents in this level have been able to communicate that they appreciate the students’ efforts as they are moving along this journey of learning to play an instrument. Finally, there is the highest level within this level, and that is to become a “peer” of your child. Parents become a “peer” when they themselves get involved in taking piano lessons. This gives the parents the opportunity of teaching the value of practice by example; it
creates a deep bond because you share the experience of learning and can empathize with each other.

Although I am fully aware of the extremely busy lives we all have, I challenge you to share the responsibility of motivating your child (piano student) by choosing the best motivational process of being Most Involved. Getting to the Most Involved level cannot happen overnight, but you can start taking steps towards it this week. I guarantee that your time invested will reap priceless rewards.


Motivation: How Involved Are You? (part2)

Least Involved

Those in the category of Least Involved see piano (music) lessons as just another “thing” to try out. It seems that they are oblivious to the many positive and character-building effect naturally developed by the study of music. Those parents don’t believe in any kind of “pushing” the student to making the required commitment to daily practice. These parents (family members) are willing to let the students drop piano (music) study at the first mention of it.  As you can imagine, especially with the younger students, most of these students do not progress and end up jumping from activity to activity because of the lack of structure, commitment, and discipline.

More Invovled

The next level is those in the More Involved. In this level, we have the parents (family) that are aware of the importance of music study, and make an effort to communicate it to the student. Parents (family) in this level will remind students to practice throughout the week. They might even set up practice expectations as part of students’ chores or homework. And, although the level of motivation may be higher and some results are achieved, I’ve also noticed that most of the parents in this category seem to expect for the students to already possess the discipline to practice consistently. When these expectations are not met, then there might be some positive or negative enforcement as a consequence; other times, the “guilt trip” tactic is used to let the student know that he/she has fallen short and let someone down. I am aware that parents in this level have the best of intentions and only want the student to succeed and progress, but let me share the best way to motivate…

What is the BEST WAY to motivate?

Motivation: How Involved Are You?

Over the past 10 years, one of the most mentioned concerns parents have, when starting piano lessons is, “How do I help him/her at home since I don’t play the piano at all??” First of all, I am delighted to hear a parent ask me that question! When a parent voices such concern, it shows me that the parents are aware that a piano lesson followed by a “Practice everyday!” will not be enough to guarantee good progress. Well, let me inform you that, as a parent (family member), you have a powerful influence on a piano student’s motivation! Whether you consciously choose it or not, you are directly influencing how motivated your child (piano student) is.

The motivational factor I’m focusing on is the level of involvement. Although there are other motivational factors, this is one that we have direct control over. It is my observation that the level of involvement is proportionate to the students’ level of motivation. To keep things simple, I will briefly name the three levels of involvement I’ve seen:

1. Least Involved

2. More Involved and

3. Most Involved.

Tell Me More…

Priority: The “Stop Doing” List

As of late, I’ve made it a priority to wake up earlier…well, earlier than 7am that is.  I’m always complaining about how I believe the day does not have enough hours to get things done, and I’m not even wanting A LOT more, I’d be happy with 30hrs instead of 24hrs.  Since I know that’s  NOT going to happen, the only other option is to start my day earlier and try to accomplish more from my “To Do List” for the day.

Even though I make changes to accommodate my ever-growing to-do list, I still find myself frustrated from time to time ; I just keep on falling behind and have a hard time catching up!  Just recently, I came across a divine revelation, a SIMPLE, LOGICAL revelation…maybe I need to shift my focus from  a “to do” list to a “stop doing” list….

What a crazy idea!  Stop doing? Do less?  For a long time now, I’ve lived under the impression that “bigger is better” and “more more more” is the way of life.  And, because of that lifestyle, I found myself frustrated and feeling incompetent because I could not achieve EVERYTHING I wanted to.  And so, I came across this idea of “stop doing” as I was reading a book by Jim Collins named Good To Great: Why some companies make the leap, and others don’t… Based on a five year research project comparing teams that made a leap to those that did not, Good to Great shows that greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance; but largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.

In this book, Jim Collins, says that a lot of companies concentrate on “what else to do?” and never consider “what should we stop doing?”  His research discovered that the companies that never made the leap to greatness shared the common mistake of not consistently evaluating what they needed to keep doing versus things they should probably stop doing.  These companies wasted time, effort, talent, and resources on things that were really unnecessary.  Now, pay attention to the word “unnecessary” because that is where it gets tricky.  A lot of times, those are the things that really get us, those things that seem good, but are really not NECESSARY for our progress.

One of the things I loved about this book, besides how interesting I found the research on many household name companies, is that the research revealed PRINCIPLES that led to progress and sustained growth.  That is how I came to start evaluating my life with the purpose of starting my “Stop Doing” list.

And so a valid question might be, if I’m only involved in activities that are productive and positive, why would I  stop doing any of these?  As I read through this particular principle in the book, I was reminded of a saying my parents would tell me often,  “El que mucho abarca, poco aprieta!”  Loosely  translated into saying that the person that does many trades masters few or none!.  Our time, effort, talent, and resources can instead be focused on those things that will truly bring great results in our lives instead of chasing quantity over quality.

Mozart the big stick for U.K. school

Classical music as a tool for punishing youth ignites debate in U.K.

Is music-making part of your life?

Is music-making for EVERYBODY? or is it for an élite “kind” that have been blessed with the “talent” for music?  If music-making is in fact a basic element of human existence, then are you missing out if you consider yourself excluded from the “music-making kind”?  Now, I use the term “music-making” to refer to any activity that involves creating music, whether for fun or formal training.

Let me share with you an excerpt from the book, “Music and the Mind” by Anthony Storr:

In ancient Greece, which is usually considered to be the birthplace of Western civilization, music was both ubiquitous and supremely important….As in our culture, elaborate instrumental skills were the preserve of professional musicians; but the Greeks considered that instruction in singing and playing the lyre should be a regular part of education for every freeborn citizen.

I attended a music conference a couple of years ago and there is one particular thing that I will never forget about it.  I attended a session that was talking about the subject of how music-making was such a normal thing to do a few years back.  The speaker mentioned that in some African tribes, there is no distinction between the word for “musician” and “person.”  Music is just such part of our existence that every member of their tribe is practically born surrounded my music and just becomes a music maker in some way. Again I ask, If music-making is in fact a basic element of human existence, then are you missing out if  you have not taken the initiative to make “music-making” part of your personal life?

In the last two years, there has been scientific studies conducted with the purpose of finding out if music really has a deeper impact on us.  Research now provides us with the evidence that being a “music-maker” (not just a listener or appreciator) literally reduces stress levels in us.  I will be talking more about that in a future post, but in essence, playing music for fun really impacts us on the genetic level, bringing our stress down.  I don’t know about you, but stress always seems to be able to find me no matter how good I’m hiding!  I’m very lucky, but more than lucky, grateful to my parents that never listened to me when I did feel like I wanted to “take a break.”  The research is mostly known under the title of “Recreational Music Making.”   Now I ask you, If music-making is in fact a basic element of human existence, and you now have scientific evidence that proves that those that play an instrument can lower their stress by playing, are you really making it a priority?

I leave you with, I believe, a more important question…If your son/daughter is already involved in making music, are you involved in  helping your son/daughter make it a priority in their lives?  The truth is that if it is not a priority for you, the parent, how will it ever become a priority for the children!?  Your child must KNOW that it is very important for you that he/she develop a daily habit of making music (otherwise called “practice”)!  Because you know it should be part of all of us, encourage and remind them to spend time on their instrument…everyday…better yet, become involved…dedicate a couple of minutes to hear her/him play a song for you…ask your son/daughter to get a song ready for the weekend gathering…take some lessons and share the joy that music truly brings.