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1. Introduction & Chapter 1



“Extrinsic motivation is defined as a motivation to participate in an activity based on meeting an external goal, garnering praise and approval, winning a competition, or receiving an award or payment.”

The response to extrinsic motivational factors, repeated in time, enables a habit to be established, typically this is recognised to be around twelve weeks; although if the purpose  or an increase in the amount of work required changes, the process may cause the cycle to recommence from its origination point.

A learner who is experiencing a lack of intrinsic motivation will demonstrate a lack of interest and a decreasing amount of practice. This may lead to reduced progress, increased reluctance to practise effectively and ultimately the cessation of lessons. The careful use of a number of extrinsic motivational stratagems will enable this intrinsic motivation to become re-established through incremental achievements.

These extrinsic motivational factors can take the form of pieces that may be achieved over a sufficient number of  lessons that the learner deems acceptable. Each piece chosen requires a clear learning objective that may be achieved within the allotted time frame.

“An individual's capacity to learn is influenced strongly by their neuro-physiological `state' (e.g. a state of curiosity rather than a state of boredom), and by their beliefs about learning and about themselves as learners (rather obviously, beliefs that one is capable of learning and that learning is worthwhile and fun are considered more useful than their opposites). Such states and beliefs are also learnt and susceptible to change.”

I have discovered in my tenure as a music educator and a facilitator for learning that “there is little point in saying something if the person you are speaking to is not ready to listen. They can hear, but if the mind is not ready to process the information, what is heard is not understood.” When a learner is showing a decreasing interest in practising an instrument it is vital to reactivate this enthusiasm.

When re-motivating a learner I find it useful to compose or utilise pieces selected for the learner specifically. 

Occasionally it can be an arrangement of a well known song to an appropriate standard to provide motivation

As an alternative method I use a series of motivational concepts including specially composed music, small concerts, reward programs, small steps and the ability to say “I Can” to fun achievement programs, challenges and events that I have used in my teaching practice over the decades, and continue to use today.

Appropriate motivation, by definition, will move pupils forward in their musical skills; inappropriate or no motivation will ultimately lead to a cessation of interest in the instrument.

“But in education, as in religion, it is the motive that counts;

and the boy who reads his lesson for a good mark becomes word perfect but does not know”

Chapter 1

What is motivation?

My personal definition could be expressed as “motivating pupils as an action, or series of actions, that encourages a learner to move forward, or continue to improve their musical knowledge during any given situation, either directly related to the lessons, or caused by external factors.”

In modern psychology motivation has been divided into two categories, extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation, when the ultimate aim of the former is to produce the latter. Without self motivation ultimately the interest in a topic cannot exist.

The value of the extrinsic reward offered must be fundamentally of value to the learner to facilitate the reignition of the sense of achievement, therefore different awards are required for each individual student. A gold star award certificate is most likely to be of little value to most adults, whilst making a regular progress video over a specific amount of time could be considerably more motivating as it demonstrates an increase in ability and skill to the learner themselves.

Chris Caton-Greasley LLCM(TD) MA (Mus)(Open)

Ethnographic Musicologist, Teacher, Researcher

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