Foundational Ideas of FiddleQuest

Motivation and the violin – Part 5

My studio doubles as a research lab studying motivation.

Every day I see kids that are highly motivated and others that have low motivation. As it turns out, it is not the amount of motivation that is important, but the quality of the motivation.

Edward Deci and Richard Ryan describe 2 types of motivation: Extrinsic and intrinsic.

Students that practice in hopes of earning a Fiddle Buck are experiencing extrinsic motivation. Students that practice because they want to get good at playing Blackberry Blossom are experiencing intrinsic motivation.

What teachers and parents instinctively know (and research has affirmed) is that kids acting with intrinsic motivation are better problem-solvers and are more creative.

Going even deeper, we know that students are intrinsically motivated by a desire for competency, relatedness and autonomy.

One area in which I can make a real difference is relatedness. If I can create an environment where kids can find friends, mentors, and community, that will be a substantial step towards cultivating intrinsic motivation in my students.

So I host camps, jams, informal performances, busking sessions, road trips. Anything that gets kids together to make music and have fun.

Moving a kid from wanting to simply earn a Fiddle Buck to wanting to learn a song for its own sake takes time, creativity and energy.

Fortunately, cultivating an environment that encourages intrinsic motivation in my students involves getting people together to make music. And that is work I really like.