The 5 Best Motivation Strategies for New Learners

You’re officially a Piano Parent! Or Voice Lesson Support System. Maybe you’re a new Violin Mom or Guitar Dad. Whatever your role, you’ve got a beginning musician in your life, and you’re looking for ways to motivate your new learner. 

Keeping kids motivated can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Here are our tips for keeping motivation levels up long after that exciting first lesson. 

Encourage a growth mindset

“Growth mindset” is the latest buzzword influencing teachers at every level of education— from kindergarten classrooms to college campuses.

 But it’s more than just another pop psychology trend, and the underlying concept is pretty simple: people believe in either a “growth” or a “fixed” mindset. 

People with a “fixed mindset” tend to think that everyone is born with a set of certain abilities or talents. These skills are “fixed” at birth, like being a musical prodigy or Olympic-level athlete.

On the other hand, people with a “growth mindset” believe that skills and abilities can be learned over time with consistent effort and practice.

How does this apply to your beginner musician? Students can get easily discouraged when they start music classes and it becomes clear that they won’t be performing like their role models any time soon. And if they’re working with a “fixed” mindset, they might even start to believe that music just “isn’t for them.” They clearly didn’t get the piano prodigy gene, so there’s not much they can do.

But by fostering a “growth” mindset,  you can help motivate new learners and encourage them to keep trying—even when things get tough.

Rethink praise 

The easiest way to encourage a “growth mindset?” Praising hard work and effort over perceived talent. Instead of saying things like “You must have inherited Dad’s perfect pitch,” or “You’re such a great piano player,” try saying something like “I can tell you’ve been practicing your chords” or “Practicing every day is definitely paying off, I can really hear a difference!” 

It’s a small change in how we praise our beginners, but developing a growth mindset early on is a crucial step for successful long-term learning.

Promote personal autonomy

Students enter music lessons under a variety of circumstances. Some have been begging to learn an instrument for months, and others are only there because a parent signed them up. Whatever the reason, it’s important for parents to promote a sense of accountability and personal responsibility around lessons. 

That means working with your student and making compromises about what music means to them. Whether you’re starting lessons with an enthusiastic learner or a reluctant student, choice and autonomy is key. 

So if that means listening to a student practice scales over and over again just so they can master the latest viral song on TikTok, embrace the things that motivate your student to learn and give them the autonomy they need to make key choices about their learning. 

Set clear and realistic goals

New learners can lose motivation fast, so it’s important to start lessons with specific goals and milestones in mind, as well as meaningful ways to celebrate progress. 

Whether it’s preparing for an upcoming recital, tryouts for the orchestra at school, or completing all the exercises in finishing a music theory book, beginning students need to know there is a specific goal behind their daily practice, especially when things get monotonous. 

Celebrate success! 

And when a student finally reaches an important milestone, make sure to celebrate. Sometimes celebrating can be as simple as a few words of affirmation, and other times it might mean a special dinner or treat after a performance. 

However you decide to recognize progress, know that you’re helping a beginner musician keep their motivation while simultaneously boosting their confidence for the next big goal. 

Let’s do this together

One more thing: being a part of The Piano Place community means you’ve got a support system in place to help you encourage and motivate your learner at every level. 

From fun events and red-carpet recitals to finding you the perfect teacher for your student’s personality, we’ve got everything you need to help your new musician thrive.

“Music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”
- Billy Joel
©The Piano Place 2018

The Piano Place