Blog | Jun 3

Effort Creates Motivation – Part 2

 

Effort Creates Motivation –

Ways to Inspire Joy and Creativity In Musical Practice 

Part two of a three-part series by Katherine Baird

 
As shared in my last posting, the phrase, “Effort creates motivation” (taken from an Oprah Magazine article!), has been so helpful for me along my musical journey.

In part one I shared how being part of a musical community and attending live performances can help inspire our daily practice.

In this second part of the three-part series I’ll look at listening to recordings and/or watching high quality YouTube performances and attending lessons.

We’ve all had the experience of turning on some favorite music and having our mood transformed. Sometimes if I’m dragging my feet about practicing, I’ll play several interpretations of the repertoire I’m working on, and I immediately feel more inspired to sit down and play.

This can be a great way to settle oneself into the practice hour: turn on the music and listen while you gather your needed materials (metronome, stand, music, rosin (if applicable), etc. Or, read the score of the music while you listen. For young children, draw a picture that tells the story of the music, draw the melodic contour in the air, move or dance to it, sing along with it. The music needs to be “in” us before we can put it “out there”.

We can use videos to make note of postural details. For example, a recent Danish String Quartet YouTube video of a Beethoven string quartet makes an excellent reference for spiccato bowing for my students. The visual can be very helpful when teaching technical or musical ideas.

Attending lessons (even when you have not practiced well). The parentheses matter because even I have been tempted to cancel a lesson when I didn’t feel prepared. However, a lesson is the ideal opportunity to review what needs to be practiced and has lit a fire in my belly for going home and practicing! Don’t skip a lesson because you haven’t practiced. Take advantage of the wonderful relationship you have with your teacher and learn as much as you can.

The relationship we have with our teacher is very special and to be treasured. Often students balk at practicing but love seeing their teacher each week. The weekly time with the teacher can help students get through the challenges of learning an instrument, providing support and consistency to the student’s life. While it may seem counterintuitive to go to a lesson when one feels unprepared, the connection with the teacher and maintaining the lesson routine actually boosts the student to get back on the practice wagon.

If you’ve utilized listening to music as a motivating technique I’d love to hear about how it’s worked for you. I also enjoy hearing from others about how seeing their teacher and attending their lessons helps them feel supported.

Happy practicing!