Why do some pupils rise to challenges eagerly, while others rather try to avoid them and to choose the easiest way out? A twenty-year research project on intelligent human behaviour resulted in the conclusion that the factors pertaining to intelligence and emotion are engaged in complicated interaction. Motivation is significant in learning, and is affected by how learners evaluate themselves as learners, by the related value concepts, and by the learning situations. Learning is not a question of observing only one “player”, as it is connected to complex processes relating to networking and activity in social communities.

Individual human interest in music and music-making is the fundamental element in the pursuit of music in its various forms. It is obvious that an enthusiastic learning atmosphere stimulates children’s motivation for studying. It has been found that their motivation for practising grows if they are allowed to choose their repertoire.

According to research, the notion that parents bribe their children to play and to take exams is false. Being presented with a new computer game after an exam as a reward for work well done may, of course, be one reason for studying music, but only one among many. If playing and the music on the syllabus do not hold any other attraction, no material reward will be a big enough incentive to work hard for years.

Experiencing the joy of playing is one great motivation booster. Equally important are control motives reflecting self-assurance and social factors, so-called contact motives, manifested in ensemble playing. Support and encouragement from family members, especially parents, stand out as significant motivating factors outside the actual sphere of playing.

Motivation in learners may be promoted by introducing them to assisted autonomous work as early as possible. Feeling independent helps pupils to commit to their task and to feel that they are in charge of their playing. They should be encouraged to assess their work and playing, and helped to refine their metacognitive skills.

In my opinion, teachers should always remember to emphasise that it is all right to play wrong notes and to make errors. Mistakes guide us forwards. If pupils just focus on faultless playing, they may completely miss out on the momentous spontaneous creative process that helps maintain motivation. Study plans, targets and strategies should be revised with the pupils at regular intervals. Timetables and practice sessions may be discussed together. It should also be ascertained that their learning environment supports the process in the best possible way.

Does this subject interest you?

Read more (research results with source references). Junttu 2010 pp. 96-98

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