Learning the violin requires a sustained effort over many years. The vast majority of students that succeed and continue playing as adults do so because they have intrinsic motivation. That is, they experience playing the violin as fun and as something that they do for the enjoyment of it. These students who carry on playing after lessons end were not simply born with a skill and talent and destined to succeed against all odds. They developed in an environment that supported them along the way. So what does that environment look like?
The environment that helps violin students build intrinsic motivation requires a team of 3 people working together to meet 3 internal needs of the student over 5 stages of development. Let’s start with what the team looks like.
The first person in the team in the parent. The parent plays many roles in their child’s music development, like
Renting or purchasing a violin
Paying for and getting their child to lessons
Creating practice time
Being present during lessons and practice
Playing music with their child
Giving feedback and encouragement
Exposure to music outside of lessons and practice, such as camps, concerts, or, simply, music in the house
The second person in the team is the teacher…The teacher is not only an instructor with technical expertise on how to play the violin, but the teacher is also a tour guide who navigates the student and parents along an educational path. Teachers are also coaches giving encouragement and support along the way with guidance on how to handle the ups and downs of a long learning journey.
The third person in this team of 3 is the community. The community is not, of course, just one person. The community is friends, school, civic and religious groups, other teachers, and other organizations that students and their family interact with.
The community will be the people your student plays music for, plays music with, receives encouragement from, is inspired by, and, most importantly, will give meaning to your student’s music.