Monday, March 5, 2012

Keeping Music Students Motivated Blog #5

There are a variety of methods being used today concerning the instruction of young music students.  Authors Courtney Crappell, from the University of Texas San Antonio, with “Preparing Students for Vibrant Sonatina Performances Using Rote Exercises”, and Pamela D. Pike, from Louisiana State University, with “Maintaining Student Motivation On The Musical Journey Toward Mastery”, are both assistant professors of piano pedagogy who emphasize how to keep a student from encountering the frustrations of learning complex repertoire.  While Pike demonstrates how to keep a music student motivated through out the learning process, Crappell shows music instructors the steps needed to break down a difficult piece of music during the lesson. The author Gary E. McPherson with “Commitment and Practice: Key Ingredients for Achievement During the Early Stages of Learning a Musical Instrument”, was directing one’s attention to the initial stages of motivation in music students based off of research conducted on students through out there learning experiences.  Each author has a different take on how a student should be motivated through out the musical experience.  There are numerous ways to keep maintain the music student’s motivation, however music teachers must know how to analyze each of their students learning capacities and decide which method suits the student’s learning style.
In Crappell’s article, one reads about how the Rote Exercises are an excellent technique to be used to “achieve one of our primary teaching goals, fostering a lasting love of music and music making” (Crappell 20).  He indicates this to the reader by providing a sample piece of music, a sonatina, and breaks it down in a way that both the student and teacher can comprehend.  According to Crappell, if a student becomes comfortable with one step of the exercises, or a simplified version of the piece, the music teacher should create other ones, in accordance to the Rote Exercises, with the difficulty going up gradually as the student progresses.  The purpose of these exercises is to facilitate a “call and response fashion- the teacher demonstrates, then the student plays” (Crappell 19).  The author only illustrates one specific technique and fails to recognize the existence of any other ones, in spite of this Pike’s article provides both specific and generalized methods every music instructor should be familiar with.
While it is helpful to have a specified exercise all layed out, instructors should also account for the types of students they are teaching and how even basic methods can maintain a student’s motivation.  Pike says, “asking potential students a couple of quick questions during the lesson-readiness interview can help shed light on their expectancy-value with regard to music study”, something Crappell failed to mention in his article.  She explains that by asking questions, for example why they want to take lessons or if they re involved in any other after school activities, it can determine how motivated they are.  According to her article, figuring out the process of teaching today’s music students is different from how it was 20 years ago.  “When designing curricula and lessons, instructors need to be aware the Millenials and ‘Net generation students have different expectations for learning then baby boomers” (Pike 21).  The article she wrote only provides methods to teach students, but it also shows how to assess a students expectations in regards to formulating a music plan for the individual student.  Although she gives a better argument than Crappell’s, Pike does not address how music students feel at the beginning of the learning process can effect the overall instruction and outcome of them continuing to play or not as is shown in McPherson’s article.
The initial stages of learning to play a musical instrument are just as important as the instruction itself.  McPherson’s article involves a study conducted on music students from seven to nine years old, following them for nine months through out their journey.  “Research in academic subjects shows that young children’s beliefs about their own personal competence and valuing of an activity predict how much effort they will exert on the task, their subsequent performance and their feeling of self worth, even after previous performance is controlled” (McPherson 122).  With his research, McPherson evaluated each of the children’s interests through out the nine months of instruction by asking them in the beginning middle and end of the process how they felt towards learning the instrument.  He determined that the children who knew they would continue in their instruments for a long time, even after the nine months were up, showed that they practiced more on average than those children who showed little interest in musical instruction.  While techniques such as the Rote Exercises shown by Crappell and general motivation skills discussed in Pike’s article all help maintain motivation, a young child’s thoughts also determine how long they will continue to play the musical interest.
Music teachers need to realize that there is more than one way to teach a student and not every student will have the same teaching style.  While McPherson had data to support his argument that children determine how motivated they will be through out music instruction, Pike does touch on this subject a little bit by explaining what questions should be asked before formulating a music lesson in accordance to the individual student.  Crappell’s technique only specifies how to teach a student using a specific exercise.  Pike demonstrates a great deal of methods to be used from the beginning of instruction and through the musical journey. 

Works Cited
Crappell, Courtney. “Preparing Students For Vibrant Classical Sonatina Performances Using Rote Exercises.” American Music Teacher Oct.-Nov. 2011: 16-20. Academic Search Premier. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. <​ehost/​search/​advanced?sid=a26dacf3-74c2-466b-af7e-2208fe8e4bd1%40sessionmgr104&vid=1&hid=125>.
McPherson, Gary E. Commitment and Practice: Key Ingredients for Achievement During the Early Stages of Learning a Musical Instrument. University of Illinois Press, 2001. Web. 2 Mar. 2012. <>.
Pike, Pamela D. “Maintaining Student Motivation On The Musical Journey Toward Mastery.” American Music Teacher Aug.-Sept. 2011: 20-24. Academic Search Premier. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. <​ehost/​search/​advanced?sid=a26dacf3-74c2-466b-af7e-2208fe8e4bd1%40sessionmgr104&vid=1&hid=125>.