What makes kids want to practice their instrument?
Some kids want to play a really cool song they heard on the radio.
Some kids need an outlet to express themselves.
Some want to be hanging out with their friends, who also take instruments.
Others may have found something they can relate to and identify with, and may want to become musicians when they get older. For these young musicians, getting them to practice on a regular basis is easy because they are self-motivated.
But for the majority of parents and music teachers, getting kids to practice is like pulling teeth – it's a painful, daily fight.
Many parents and teachers use incentives like stickers, candy, and music books to “persuade” kids to practice, in the hopes that once a child starts to see (and hear) progress, they will be more self-motivated to practice.
Parents can relate this to trying to get their kids to eat vegetables. They try to hide the vegetables in some kind of creative concoction so their kids will get the valuable nutrients in the vegetables and also start to realize that vegetables can taste good too.
Lots of times, incentives work. If used right, after a while, kids don't need the prizes to lure them into the practice room because they have established a set routine of practicing and are getting results. The teacher has hopefully established a strong foundation of how and what to practice so the beginning musician can work on their goals in a structured fashion.
Sometimes incentives don't work – the young musician may not understand a key concept about producing sound, which makes them embarrassed to play in class and afraid to ask the teacher for help. They eventually drop out because they feel it's too hard to play an instrument.
But perhaps if there was extra guidance from the teacher throughout the week, delivered in such a way that the child could understand…
Ideas to inspire the youngest musicians
I had the opportunity to interview Ian Green, one of the founders of the MyMuCo app, along with one of his students and her mom. (You can read about my first interview with Ian here, where he introduced and explained the app.)
Ian is a musician, teacher, father and entrepreneur who graduated from Queen's University and the Royal Conservatory of Music at Toronto. He is a Registered Music teacher, and has a thriving studio at www.musicbyiangreen.com.
MyMuCo Inc. is a technology start-up based near Toronto, Canada, with a mission to strengthen the global community of musicians, to nurture new musical talent and to provide more resources to musicians with which they may pursue their passions.
Ian has been working with the Pridmore family for a while now and has noticed tremendous progress with Elyse once she started using the MyMuCo app.
In fact, the makers of the app did some research and have found that students using the app have made over 30% more progress than those not using MyMuCo.
What's happening here? Is this the answer to motivating students to practice?
For Elyse, it certainly is.
In my latest interview, found here, Elyse tells us in her own words what motivates her to practice.
She also gives teachers some tips to help their students.
How can the MyMuCo app help teachers and parents?
Getting feedback from young musicians themselves as to how to motivate students to practice can yield a goldmine of information for the teacher and parent to help guide students and enjoy making music.
It's vitally important to be able to relate to your students by knowing their perspective and knowing what will help them learn.
Teachers using the MyMuCo app can send lesson plans and instructions to the student in the form of a To-Do List, and the student can have that sense of pride and responsibility when they check off items throughout the week.
For the youngest of students, up to age 10, the teacher can create a fun, virtual environment, where the student can earn points and earn virtual prizes. The key here is that it encourages the kids to have fun and look forward to practicing so they can earn more points.
Initially, I thought the app was for very young musicians. After speaking with Ian, I realized I was very wrong.
There's a MyMuCo Kids section, which teachers of older students do not have to use, and there's also a structured email feature that comes in an easy-to-read and engaging format that's suitable for students of all ages.
The Kids feature and the email feature both provide guidance on what to practice for week and gives students something to refer back to. This helps the students retain more of what was learned and results in more progress over time.
There are other benefits to the teacher too. The MyMuCo app helps teachers organize their lessons and be more efficient & effective. They can see their entire studio in the dashboard, and check on each student's progress.
Teachers don't have to change their system of teaching – instead, it will help them be more efficient and can free up a half-hour or more of time to take on more students, spend time with family, etc.
There are more bonus tip that Ian talked about in the interview. You can listen to it here.
How can I get the MyMuCo app?
By clicking on this link, you can get a free 30 day trial of the MyMuCo app. That's more than twice as long as offered from the MyMuCo site! This is a special deal for readers of my blog…
It is important that the teacher signs up first, so if you are a parent reading this article, please share it with your teacher and encourage them to sign up so that your child can see the benefits of the MyMuCo app.
- Listen to the interview with Ian and Elyse here.
- Sign up to my newsletter to try out the MyMuCo app for your students today, and see the results!
- Share this article with teachers who want to motivate their students to practice more and see great progress.
- I would love to know how MyMuCo has helped you motivate students to practice. Please share your stories in the Comments below…