By Julia Kossuth
As a young teacher, and thus lacking years of consistent teaching in one place, I’ve been able to consider what works and what doesn’t work to motivate my students. This has also been largely influenced by my own piano teacher through high school, who I maintain contact with to this day. I think the key to student success is lots of performance opportunities.
At the studios of Sarah Strout, we encourage and reward students who give private home concerts as well as offer two recitals a year. With a studio of our size, it’s hard to coordinate more recitals than that. However, I’ve noticed that this leaves a few months in the year where lessons and practice are fairly unmotivated–sure, we keep going in their lesson books, we pick out fun songs to learn along with it, play theory games and such, but there is no driving motivation to polish and learn music quickly.
As I grew up in piano lessons, there was a performance to prepare for almost once a month. At the time, that seemed like an eternity of preparation! But now I can see how choosing a doable but challenging enough piece to learn coupled with polishing up a piece for the closest recital really drove me to progress at a quicker pace than I would have without those consistent goals.
So what does this have to do with our studio? This summer we are introducing performance camps to our enrollment options! This will be an opportunity to have a master class type setting to motivate and encourage students to actively prepare their music. My hope is to continue these through the school year with once a month performance opportunities. Even with a small group of performers and audience this will keep the interested students progressing and loving music.
What ways have you found to motivate your students? Have you found success regarding your students performing?