“I need you to motivate my daughter.”
Red flag. Big Red flag.
“She won’t practice. And she keeps telling me she won’t.”
I accepted the student. I needed the money.
“She’s 13 and more interested in sports than music.”
I’m thinking, surely I can do better than her previous teachers have. I’ll connect with her. I’ll motivate her.
It didn’t happen. We had a miserable year together.
Don’t even try to motivate. Inspire.
It’s not my job as a teacher to motivate the student. That’s the student’s responsibility. It IS my job to inspire. To focus on the MUSIC. Get excited about it and show it.
Dr. Dale Wheeler, in his talk at the current Alberta Piano Teachers’ Association Conference (happening as I write), encouraged us to put the focus on the music, above the teacher and the student. He challenged us to be proactive, rather than reactive teachers.
Reactive teachers bounce with their students from crisis to crisis, allowing the students to dictate the parameters of the lesson, ending in frustration on all fronts.
Proactive teachers control what they can – their own attitudes and actions.
They don’t just give information; they equip students to make intelligent choices.
They know that piano lessons are about learning music, enjoying music, discovering what it is to be human; the piano is the vehicle.
They know it’s not about the grade in the festival or exam or jury, but it’s about the journey. They recognize that the student’s success depends on a myriad of factors, many out of control of the teacher.
Focus on the music. Seek to inspire. Then the health and vitality and, ultimately, motivation, of student and teacher often fall into place.