Here is a question I got from Marianne:
“Anselma, what would you do if you had a student that wants to quit playing the paino because she feels totally overwhelmed by life’s duties. She has been my piano student for 5 years. She feels a lot of pressure in school and from her ambitious mother.
Her mother wants her to pass a grade exam in piano before she quits. This girl would have to play 4 pieces from 4 different epochs but she barely manages coordinated playing with two hands.
I am at my wit’s end. Do you have any idea what I could do to motivate her?”
This is a great question and I feel that every teacher at some point in their career came across a situation like this.
Children today suffer from overwhelm – on a regular basis. Statistically, they spend less time on fresh air than a prisoner (less then 60 min. a day), their unscheduled time is barely non-existent.
There is no greater motivation killer than stress. I remember that as a child I loved to play music at home. Standing on stage on the other hand caused so much stress that suddenly I just wanted to run and hide and I felt NO motivation at all any more.
Expectations from relatives put additional pressure on us – besides daily duties and at the end of the day we feel empty and not motivated to do anything.
From your words I get a feeling that passing this exam is realistically outside the territory of what is possible for this girl. So maybe another option would be best.
Here is something I learned from dog training: If dogs feel they have the right to chose what they are supposed to do they are motivated and cooperative. In case they feel they are forced they get cranky and refuse to cooperate.
My suggestion is: Let the girl chose how she wants to celebrate her 5 year experience in piano playing. An exam seems to be a dignified celebration – but maybe FOR HER this just isn’t the right one. It’s too overwhelming.
What if she would strive to give a little concert of 10 or 20 minutes for her girl friends at home and then they have cake and hot chocolate together?
Or maybe she trains to play just ONE piece that she loves and makes a recording to celebrate what she had learned? This recording then will be a gift for grandma and everybody in the family.
A lack of motivation usually shows that a set goal does not have a pulling effect. When we adapt the goal to something we would love to experience everything changes.
What goals are giving YOU motivation?
The ones that are set by others or by striving towards your own?
I really hope these questions will spark some ideas!