Motivating piano students doesn’t need to be difficult. Creative strategies can go a long way to keep your students engaged in their piano practice.
In this article, we discuss 10 different strategies for motivating piano students and helping them achieve their learning goals.
Implement Rewards and Gamification Techniques
Gamification will work with piano students of all ages. This consists of using a simple yet effective system to keep track of the efforts and progress they make. For example, keeping a streak of practice days or learning a number of songs in a set period of time.
Rewards and incentives are powerful components when motivating piano students and they match perfectly with the concept of gamification. And it doesn’t need to be anything expensive or even material. Keep incentives in the realm of recognition. Come up with badges and ranks that represent their progress and achievement.
The idea of gamification is backed by science. It doesn’t only make learning fun but keeps the student engaged on both conscious and subconscious levels.
Show Interest in their Learning Process
It is difficult to keep piano students motivated when the teacher is disengaged from what is going on.
Teachers’ interest is essential if we want to motivate students. In the vast majority of cases, students look up to their teachers and desire their respect and attention. With big classes, it can be challenging to dedicate too much to a single student but in the case of piano lessons, it is perfectly possible.
By showing interest in the piano student, you can keep him motivated, inspired, and engaged. Honest interest is one of the most uplifting things the student can receive and will also help to nurture a healthy, respectful teacher-student relationship.
Create the Right Space for Piano Practice
It doesn’t matter the actual location, teachers must ensure the right space for piano practice. Whether you have your own studio, you teach at your house, or you go to the student’s home, the space where practice takes place is important.
Make sure there are no distractions like big windows towards busy streets, TVs, or people chatting. Reduce all the elements that can disturb the piano practice. Keep the place clean and both the piano and piano bench accessible.
For students, especially young ones, having the right space will help them to be engaged and motivated, avoiding any distractions that may take them out of the necessary headspace.
Keep a Regular Practice Schedule
Consistency is key not only to producing results but for healthy engagement with any learning activity. That is why you need to coordinate with your piano students (and their parents) a consistent practice schedule.
This means sticking to the same time every week or a couple of weeks, depending on the intensity. Also allocating the same amount of time for every lesson, standardizing the experience in order to make it a habit.
Sometimes generating motivation won’t be possible or enough. Here is where habit comes in handy. A piano student that enjoys a healthy balance of motivation and habit can reach his learning goals.
Organize Concerts and Involve the Parents
Performing is one of the most intimidating yet exciting parts of piano practice. Especially for young students, playing in front of an actual audience will give a whole new dimension to the experience.
Making sure of including performances in the student’s learning plan will keep the experience dynamic. If we stick to exclusively practicing all the time, the journey may lose its meaning. The disengaged student may start asking, “why am I doing all these efforts?” The challenge of live performing answers this question for them.
Here the parents play a key role. They need to be part of concerts and presentations their children give. This is what validates the experience and makes it official to the student.
Keep a Varied, Fun Repertoire
A bland, boring music repertoire can kill a piano practice for the young student. Always practicing the same thing, no matter how important the piece can be, will certainly lead to uninterested students.
That is why is important to periodically evaluate the music repertoire you are using for lessons. Try to see the experience from your student’s perspective. Also, consider each student’s style and personal preferences to determine if your music choices are the most conducive to engagement and interest.
Get Creative with Improvisation and Composition
In order to break the grind of committed piano practice, teachers can (and should) be creative. Improvisation and composition activities present an opportunity for this.
By simply following directions on a page, piano students are destined to be bored and unmotivated. Here is where improvisation and composition can help. These activities teach the student that creativity plays a huge part in their success, regardless of their learning goals.
Promote Interaction Between Students
If you have a class with multiple students or a studio to which multiple students attend, we recommend getting them involved with each other. And we don’t mean to get them to compete with each other, which could be a natural situation to take place, but to develop healthy relationships.
Our environment heavily influences our interests and motivations. If a student only thinks of the piano once a week when attending class, it’s very unlikely that he will be motivated. That is why friends and acquaintances are so important, regardless of our path in life.
Getting our piano students involved with each other will certainly get them more involved in their practice. Talking and sharing with like-minded people can spark creativity, interest, and commitment, also a deeper understanding of the practice by knowing different perspectives.
Some practical ways to do this, especially if students attend individual classes, is to organize social events every once in a while, inviting all the students to have something to eat and share for a few hours.
Ask for Input When it Comes to Music Selection
Asking your piano students what kind of music they want to play when practicing can do a lot for motivation.
First, they will feel respected and understood by their teacher. But also, by simply asking, you don’t need to be guessing about what their preferences are. Their answers will allow you to design a better practice experience, one that is more engaging and fun.
This doesn’t mean that piano students must set the tone of the practice. You are the teacher, the one who knows better how to conduct a piano lesson. However, understanding your students will help you create more effective practice sessions and grow as an educator in the long run.
Implement and Track Learning Goals
Last but probably one of the most effective tips in this article: Use goals.
It doesn’t matter what aspect of life we discuss, goals will always have a massive influence on how we perform. In education, goal setting is especially important. By setting and tracking goals for their piano practice, students will enjoy a clearer path to success, visually measure progress, increase self-confidence, and present ongoing challenges that push the student in healthy ways.
All of these are conditions for real, sustainable motivation. So sit down with the student very early in their practice to set realistic, measurable, and timely goals based on their efforts and down-to-earth results. Develop a simple system to track such goals and make the student part of the process.
The Bottom Line
There is no magic trick to motivate piano students. This is true in any area of education. However, teachers do have resources to work with. Students can be stimulated in order to keep commitment, interest, and enthusiasm high. Keep things creative and dynamic!
Even with the undisputed significance of motivation, it is important for both teacher and student to understand that “being motivated” is not possible all the time. Periods of lower interest in piano practice will take place. However, by developing strong habits and having clear goals, progress can be made.