Composer and teacher Pam Wedgwood talks motivation.
motivationby Pam Wedgwood It’s is a huge responsibility for us, as teachers, to guide and inspire our pupils with well-balanced teaching that will ensure they are musically motivated. If we get the mix wrong and our pupils begin to lose interest then we must question and change our teaching strategies. During my 30 years of teaching I have been constantly on the search for new ideas to motivate my pupils. Here are some of my suggestions: Introduce music that the pupil really wants to play. This simple but effective strategy ensures steady progress, especially if you use the chosen pieces to introduce and consolidate aural and theory. If general musicianship is not dealt with from the beginning it’s always going to lag behind and the pupil will struggle when it comes to exam time. To help with the understanding of rhythm I work with my pupils on various instruments – the current favourite being my lovely set of African drums! We play rhythmic duets of new pieces – in my opinion an essential teaching tip at any stage. (In the absence of drums, clapping will also do.) Teaching pitch awareness is also really important and I have a few ways of incorporating this into lessons. Sing or play a note on the piano then ask your pupil to find it (they’re allowed three tries). I do this at the end of lessons – it’s amazing how much pupils improve in one term. You can also ask them to listen to household equipment (ambulance sirens, hair dryers and doorbells) and try to work out the pitch on the piano (my vacuum is in F). In addition there are some great apps that deal with pitch which are worth exploring. ‘The only thing better than singing is more singing’. Being able to sing the notes is just as important as being able to play them, I believe, and it’s important to include this skill in lessons right from the start. Some pupils (especially boys) think that singing is not cool – you’ll need to find a song that sounds cool and they’ll soon start to enjoy the 26 Faber Music Education Catalogue