We all know that practice makes perfect. We have to spend lots of time and effort in piano practice in order to master piano playing. However practicing usually involves repetition. Repetition brings bore easily. So in reality we don’t like practicing. We don’t like bore so we don’t like practice also. In psychology, there are several approaches to motivate people. They are as follows:
Rewards as Reinforcement
We teachers like to give students verbal appraisal, stickers and candies to show our appreciation of students hardworking and achievement. Actually this approach has a specific technical name, operant conditioning. The rationale of this approach is that reinforcement (rewards and punishments) can help to shape students’ behaviour (e.g. become more willing to practice).
Locus of Control
Young students like stickers and candies. But when they grow up, these kind of rewards are usually no longer attractive. So we have to find another way to motivate them.
Julian Bernard Rotter thought that besides the reinforcement, the locus of control also plays role when people want to do a certain behaviour. Locus of control means how people feel they can control a situation affecting them. If people think they can have higher degree of control, they will engage more and are likely to do certain behaviour (Behavioral Potential). So it is a good idea to let students to be initial in the piano learning process. For example let them to choose the piano repertoire ( of course from a pool of piano repertoire with appropriate level) and design their own practice schedule.
Maslow’s triangle shows the hierarchy of needs. The toppest level of needs is about self-actualization. But here I am concerning the bottom parts–basic needs. Needs for food, drink and security are also important as they are the foundation of our life. So concern students’ overall physical and mental state as well. If they do not feel well, let them have a rest.
Habits, Addiction and Brain System
When we talk about “habits” and “addiction”, we may think these two terms representing two entirely different concept. For “addiction” we may associate something not so good, such as addicted to alcohol, cigarette, shopaholic, gambling or playing online games. But these two terms are all originated from our brain system. In The Power of Habit, Reporter Charles Duhigg reveal that based on neuroscience and psychology, habit is formed under the following pathway: cue–>routine–>reward. For example when we feel stressed (cue), we may drink alcohol, take a cigarette or go shopping (action). Afterwards we feel released (reward). When we repeat this pathway and gradually this pathway will become our habit.
We may adjust this pathway to so as to encourage students to practise more. For example when they begin to feel bored during practice (cue), normally they will stop practising and do other things (action). Then they feel happy again (reward). This time when students get bored again in practice session, we teachers can provide some funny ways in practicing. For example we may record melodic line of music first. Then playback this recording while playing accompaniment on the piano.
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