Motivation and Commitment

A learner’s motivation is extremely important in deciding which instrument to play. There are few obstacles that a determined learner will not overcome. However, care should be taken to ensure that learners’ physical development is not put at risk, particularly when teaching young children. Physical damage may occur at a later stage if there is lack of awareness of potential problems with posture and other physical aspects of technique when learners begin.

Learning to sing or play an instrument requires effort and persistence. In order to encourage continuity and progression, and to help develop and maintain motivation, attending more than one music-making session per week can be of enormous benefit.

Appropriate activities could include:

  • an instrumental lesson plus a teacher-supervised practice session
  • a singing lesson plus a choir rehearsal
  • an instrumental lesson plus a band, jazz group or orchestra session
  • two large-group lessons
  • a piano lesson plus playing duets/chamber music
  • a joint peer rehearsal (semi-supervised)

Learners with only one lesson per week have to wait a long time between one lesson and the next; a second ‘directed’ session each week helps to sustain interest and aids progress. Members of an ensemble can also provide each other with a valuable source of support and encouragement. A Common Approach is based on the premise that a broad and balanced vocal/instrumental curriculum involves both making music individually and with others. Each activity offers opportunities to develop and deepen learners’ understanding of the six interrelated areas of musical experience, and thus learning in one context can be reinforced in another.

All learners need support and encouragement. Teachers, parents/carers, schools, Music Services/Hubs, community music centres and other organisations all have their part to play. Other ways of developing learners’ motivation and commitment include:

  • enabling them to make music with others, both formally and informally
  • offering structured learning goals, such as performing in concerts and taking examinations where appropriate
  • supporting learners’ own learning goals
  • encouraging them to listen to music, including recordings of music to be learnt, and to share their listening with peers and teachers
  • supporting and helping to facilitate opportunities for learners to experience live performances from peers and professionals
  • helping learners to explore, experiment, discover and create music with peers and/or on their own