June 15, 2015     Ward Dilmore

6 Universal Truths on Motivating Musicians to Practice


Every ensemble director faces this universal challenge: motivating musicians to practice.

In the search for answers, Encore Tours and 70 music directors set sail to the Boston Harbor on May 17th for a three-hour Etude Symposium on “Motivating Musicians to Practice”. The symposium was led by four expert presenters in the field of music education:

  • Dr. Carolyn Watson, Orchestra Director at Interlochen Arts Academy
  • Jared Cassedy, 2015 GRAMMY Music Educator Award recipient
  • Gerald Dolan, Director of Fine Arts for Ipswich, MA Schools
  • Robert Franzblau, Associate Professor of Music at Rhode Island College and author of “So You Want To Be A Music Major

While each presenter had their own unique methods of motivating practice, together they agreed on these primary philosophies:

  1. In order to accomplish anything as an ensemble member, you need to practice.
  2. Nobody is a born “practicer”; it requires hard work and is a habit that is developed.
  3. It’s not how much time you practice; it’s how well you practice. Good practice habits are taught by setting a goal for each practice session. Fifteen minutes of goal-oriented practice is more beneficial than an unfocused hour. Ultimately, you get out of practice what you put into it!
  4. Practice is a partnership involving the musician, the teacher, and the family. A supportive practice atmosphere requires a quiet place, respect, and positive encouragement. If you’re a musician living with non-musicians, take them to concerts and listen to music together to help them understand and respect your musical journey.
  5. Practice leads to self-discipline and self-motivation. It can also lead to a lifetime of satisfaction in all aspects of life.
  6. Pursue your passion and never give up. If you do feel like giving up, review your goals and recommit to one musical activity that will help you prevail.

Each of the four speakers on the Boston Harbor cruise shared the determination that is required to be successful. They never quit. They followed their passion, and in turn, not only motivated the musicians in their own ensembles, but they also motivated the directors who joined them on the Etude Symposium.

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