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4. Chapter 6 & 7


Chapter 6

Tangible Rewards for Personal Progress

Utilising and understanding the extrinsic motivating factors of each individual learner is vital in order to achieve building, or in some cases restoring, their intrinsic motivation to succeed.

Through experience, discussion and research a set of achievement charts, certificates, reports and rosettes may be selected based upon knowledge gained from each individual. The stepping stones can then be tailored to each individual's requirements irrespective of their personal learning styles and incorporating achievable targets according to their progression parameters. These make up my motivational program.

The Sycamore Preparatory Program cut the required guided teaching time of learners by up to 50%, proving the value of micro-steps to certain individuals.

Following the introduction of the program to suitable learners it was noted by parents and sponsors that exam marks significantly increased at the grade one practical exam. The initial pathway consisted of five short-term milestones mapping the skill development from the very first lesson to successful completion of grade one practical and theory. The next milestone was designed to be easily completed once the previous had been achieved, giving a learner the confidence and willingness to continue.

“Always make sure that the pupil completes a task and completes them to the best of their ability, this will lead to confidence which in turn will motivate them to their next challenge”

Sally and Sarah came from Dubai, having studied the piano for nearly a year, they were unable to play even the simplest piece and could not independently read the music. The sisters were placed on the Sycamore Preparatory Program, this gave them both the ability to excel quickly at their personal ability and in their individual learning style.

The younger child, Sarah, was assessed and the Sycamore Preparatory Program tailored to her unique learning requirements. With the ability to see each step's progression she gained confidence in not only her ability but also her comprehension of musicality.

While Sally, the older sister, had different and more complex issues relating to self-confidence and self-worth, the ability to achieve new goals in each lesson granted her increased self confidence and ability to motivate her through the weekly achievable milestones.

The parents mentioned how much the girls enjoyed playing at home now and were exploring new music and a new piano was purchased and both girls passed grade 1 practical and theory with high marks.

After a stage milestone has been completed the pupil has an option to complete a small assessment and receives a music assessment award rosette and report card.

“by giving children feedback on their performance we are tapping into their intrinsic motivation to succeed”

Parents are encouraged to support appropriate practice at home. The parent may require advice to encourage the child in a positive manner. Parents can dissuade a learner through the utilisation of negative encouragement. The parent is encouraged to use emotionally intelligent motivation, casual encouragement may be beneficial to learners with certain issues where they do not want parents listening as they fear making a mistake. Utilisation of other family members, such as grandparents, may be beneficial in encouraging the learner to play in front of an audience.

The primary difference between my milestones of the Sycamore Preparatory Program and the official graded examination system is the parents' comprehension regarding what is required to achieve the targets set and to support and assist in motivating the child to practise effectively at home.

In order to achieve the micro stages characteristic of the Program the parent can take the role of a home teacher and provide the support to achieve the current goal. Parents who assist the learner at home on a daily basis have accumulated considerable musical knowledge. The learner, with a competitive streak, may be motivated by a parent and young person challenge at the grade 1 theory examination.

I have modified the cycle diagram for the music teachers companion to suit my preparatory program.

Chapter 7

Program Extension

The examination process has undergone many changes since the Sycamore Preparatory Program was first developed, some changes were absorbed and some needed additional consideration to make them work. The independent examinations have risen to become equal with the national and international standards.

The new terms of “Guided Learning Hours” and “Total Qualification Time” and the inclusion of the Ofqual and EQF levels have guaranteed the same standard between the three primary colleges, London College of Music, Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity Guildhall, allowing for the unique differences in syllabuses to be appreciated.

According to the evidence provided between GLH & TQT only 20% of the time taken for the qualification should be spent in lessons with 80% of the work required to be undertaken outside of the formal lesson. The time spent in the lesson requires the investment of four times as much home study if the examination standard is to be attained. Parents, without guidance, can potentially demotivate their young person by telling them to “practice” without awareness or comprehension of exactly what the learner needs to achieve. The chart system that has been developed allows the educator to pinpoint the item to be learnt during the week, and to ensure that the parental figure is aware of what is required. With sufficient suitable learning aids such as audible files for those with an auditory learning style, or videos for the visual learner, this almost removes the requirement for the word practice.

The current usage of the phrases ‘Learning Outcomes’ and ‘Assessment Criteria’ assists the ability to pass the exams with a good mark. Technical requirement breakdowns available for ear training, viva voce and sight reading allow the learner to hone the required skills.

The lack of specification for the specific technical demands of each grade leaves a certain amount of flexibility in the pieces. To this end we have compared pieces from the decades of 1940, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 to ascertain the exact parameters that we can use as guides for learners to assess their readiness for examination. Awareness of which parameters require completion ensures a learner is prepared with the required skills before attempting the pieces.

Looking at these parameters has enabled the preparatory program to be expanded to cover the rest of the syllabi.


It can be said that there can be no extrinsic value without intrinsic value. No amount of extrinsic motivation in music education can reignite the intrinsic requirement to work on the skills daily, if there is no desire to excel at it.

Positively motivated learners will use the extrinsic rewards gained for progress milestones to increase their innate intrinsic motivational factors. Negatively motivated learners can appear bored or lethargic. Should they reflect on their lack of achievements and realise they have completed another year and still don't really know the required work, they may find their motivation for the following year lacking or even absent.

This adapted and evolved program with its small steps and milestones grants the ability to assist in assessing and utilising extrinsic motivational factors in order to ensure that graded learners whilst at the same time building, or in some cases restoring, their intrinsic motivation have a greater potential to succeed.

The title of this essay is “What strategies would you employ for rekindling enthusiasm in a pupil whose interest in lessons is starting to wane?” The key word in this title is starting; however it is for the teacher and the parent to accept that sometimes the motivation required is a total break from lessons, even for a learner who appears skilled for which great things were once forecast. For some individuals, the intrinsic motivation can only be reawakened when all parentally planned lessons and learning have been removed. The motivational strategy used here is the provision of choice for the individual learner to begin again when and how they would like to. It should also be considered that during stressful times the learners mental health must be taken into consideration including GCSE examination times, SATs, puberty, transitioning between educational establishments and other incidents that may have repercussions in the learners life.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Figure5 Practice Record Card 1997

Figure5 Practice Record Card 1997

Figure 6 Practice Record Card Back 1997

Figure 6 Practice Record Card Back 1997

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

Ethnographic Musicologist, Teacher, Researcher

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