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My students are not practicing, what can I do? – PART 2

It’s not easy to make students enjoy learning an instrument. Andi Rohde (drum teacher, movement science BA and music educator) can tell you a thing or two about that. In part 1 of our blog entry, we gave you 3 tips on how to motivate your students.

In part 2 we will go into some didactic points that help to learn and teach an instrument.

From the music teacher’s point of view, there are a few important questions you should ask yourself as a music teacher whenever you realize: I am not getting anywhere with my student, my student is losing motivation.

1. Is my music lesson a dialogue or a monologue?

  • Do you know your students well enough to read their needs and desires, even if they don’t tell you?
  • Are you a team with your student, a so-called “progress community”?
  • Do you create an atmosphere of trust, of exchange, where you are a teacher and team partner?

It is your job to bring respect to your students. They want to learn from you. Welcome them with open arms in your world of music, in your private music lessons. It is your responsibility to assess what level of success you can achieve together and what is the right speed to learn the instrument. Here it is important to motivate and let them dream, but also to set achievable goals.

Point out the possibilities. Take the obligation out of it.

Andi Rohde

Practicing should not be something you have to do before you get to play music, but a natural part of the process of learning an instrument. We all progress when the desire comes into playing music – that’s where personal ambition comes in. Ambitious but achievable goals help develop that ambition.

Duties make you full. Possibilities make you want more. 😋

Andi Rohde

If you leave your class wanting to learn even more, you will most likely continue practicing your instrument as soon as possible after finishing a lesson.

2. Am I praising my students properly?

Praise students for their effort – learning an instrument is a long journey. Praise them for their effort and for their practice, rather than for their ability. Avoid using words like “talent” or “intelligence” as they are difficult to influence.

Empower your students to develop. For this, they need much more confidence and courage than talent. This is the “growth mindset” that says “I can get better on my own”.

music lessons

3. What does music teaching mean to my students?

If we measure our value as teachers by how many of our students practice regularly on their instruments, we make ourselves miserable.

  • If we see ourselves as an inspiration, confidant, and mentor,
    who can inspire,
  • if we offer space for development,
  • if we motivate and set an example,
  • wenn wir motivieren und Vorbild sind,
  • if we are constantly learning – about learning, teaching, music, pedagogy and the world,

Then we realize that we are allowed to practice one of the most wonderful professions of all.

This is of course only a small part of the work of Andi Rohde, who has been working for many years on the subject of motivating music students in private music lessons and what it is like to learn and teach an instrument.

If the text has made you curious and you want to delve deeper, then you can find an exciting literature list on didactics in private music lessons here.

Go to part 1 here

Literature list

Werner, Kenny – Effortless Mastery (Jamey Aebersold Jazz, 1996)

Coyle, Daniel – The Talent Code (Random House Books, 2009)

Zusammenfassung von Andi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi-8B1zg4mQ

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly – “Flow” (Harper & Row, 1990)

Wooten, Victor – The Music Lesson (Berkley, 2008)

Sinek, Simon – Start With Why (New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2009)

Dweck, Carol – Mindset (New York: Random House, 2006)

Coyle, Daniel – The Culture Code (Bantam, 2008)


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