Education + Celebration = Motivation. (in Unison)

By Gibson, R. Wayne | American Music Teacher, August-September 2002 | Go to article overview

Education + Celebration = Motivation. (in Unison)


Gibson, R. Wayne, American Music Teacher


Today's music students will determine the future of music in America and will determine the value society places on music, as we know it. I'm not talking about just those stars who win competitions nor even those who enter competitions; I'm talking about all music students, regardless of their abilities. I'm convinced that those who ultimately choose careers outside the music field will find ways to make music a part of their everyday lives.

Our own national staff is a great example. While none currently teaches music or is employed as a musician, more than 50 percent of the staff has taken music lessons. At some time in their lives, they've played the piano, flute, clarinet, violin and cello and sung in choirs. Now, in addition to being a part of MTNA, they attend concerts, play in community orchestras and participate in church music programs--doing their part to keep music alive. Wouldn't it be wonderful if 50 percent of our society at large saw music as an important part of their lives?

We know that there is a direct correlation between the length of music study and the place music occupies in the future lives of music students. Therefore, we want to keep students coming back for more and more music lessons, not just "for their own good," but also for the benefit of our society.

First, we have to find a way for music to capture and hold kids' interest, much like sport teams have done. Most people, young and old alike, can easily become discouraged when learning a new skill. In fact, some people become so discouraged they give up. More often than not, when a children's sports team finishes the season, every player on the team receives recognition, be it a ribbon or a small trophy. They are rewarded for being part of the team, regardless of their individual performance or of the team's performance. For many youngsters, this gesture is enough to make them want to play the next season.

MTNA's newest program for students is based on this premise: A simple form of encouragement often is all that is needed for students, especially those "everyday" students, to continue music lessons. …

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