It is bound to happen at some point. Students will start showing signs of being bored by their music lessons. It's only natural that some people will get bored or even demotivated by their music lessons. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep a bored student motivated. A student's boredom may not be down to anything accept themselves.
It is important you sit down with them as the teacher or parent and try to find out what the problem is. Yet, just as important is recognizing, because it's not something they will admit right away. Remedial efforts may be in vain if your student has totally lost interest in learning music.
Signs That The Student Is Getting Bored
Whether you are trying to keep a bored piano player motivated or help someone along to develop their voice, you will know all is not well if you notice some of the following:
- Always have excuses for not practicing
- Skip lessons for no valid reason
- Suddenly finds music too hard
- Are no longer as enthusiastic about their lessons as when they first started.
As a teacher, it's important to talk to the student first, before you engage the parents over the matter. You do not know where the student’s boredom, or loss of interest, could be stemming from. It could be a bad situation at home.
But if the student can’t open up to you or fails to provide a reasonable explanation, it could be time to bring the parent into the picture. For mature students without guardians, it may be a bit trickier.
Reasons Why A Student May Become Bored
After your talk with the student, or the parent, you will want to start investigating ways to get the student interested again. From talking to them honestly, you will discover possible reasons for your student’s dipping interest. To find the best solution, you will need to isolate the problems you feel are most responsible. It could be one, or several of the following:
- Loss of interest
- Difficulty in grasping concepts
- The lessons just aren’t stimulating enough
- Personal problems
- Changing interests
- Inadequate time for practice
If you have gotten to this stage and still have the student pitching up for lessons, then there may still be hope it can corrected.
You can now work on fixing the problem. It may not mean that you will have it easier though.
The success of your efforts will depend largely on the student’s willingness to turn the situation around. But at least both of you will now agree there is a problem that needs solving.
Tips To Help Your Student Get Their Mojo Back
It is every teacher’s and parent's hope that the waning enthusiasm for lessons is a temporary situation that can be fixed with a few tweaks. But, as you will have found , some of the underlying problems may have set in and correcting them may need you to really knuckle down.
1. Schedule extra lessons
One reason why a student could lose interest in their lesson could be that the lessons are too spaced. Too much time passes before they have to attend a lesson again. That length of time is enough to dilute their enthusiasm for lessons.
They could spend that time practicing? But there is no way of making sure they get to do that if the practice sessions are not supervised. This is especially true for younger learners who have to rely on the guidance of parents for on practice. Parents themselves may not even have the time. Instead, you could schedule extra lessons at a more convenient time.
2. Change the lesson structure
What do you do if you can’t book the student for more lessons? There could not be space in the child’s or your own schedule. You may even feel the current lessons should be adequate and can’t possibly book them for more.
The answer could lie in tweaking and changing the structure of the lessons themselves. Students are not stimulated by too much repetition. What works for one may not work for another. If the lessons were largely instructional, one trick could be to make them more interactive.
Introduce a few games and songs that you could perform together with the student. Instead of telling them how something is done, you could try showing them. You may be surprised the student will grasp things easier that way.
Another great way is to change the student’s repertoire. You will want to make sure the repertoire isn’t the teacher or the parent’s preference. If they like pop or jazz sounds you are unlikely to get them excited for lessons if you choose a classical selection for them. Let that be the one decision they make or influence.
3. Involve parents...or remove them
Sometimes when the parent does not show enough interest in their child’s musical development, beyond signing the child up for lessons, the child will gradually lose interest. It is possible the whole idea of enrolling for the lessons may have been pushed for by the child, and some parents may deem it a passing phase and that the child will soon find something else more amusing.
On the flip side, the problem could be a parent’s over-enthusiasm for their child to do well. A parent may tag along for every lesson and want to be too involved in the lessons themselves, creating too much pressure.
That a parent will show this much hunger to see their child succeed shouldn’t a problem. But it will soon be if it all becomes overbearing and start to weigh down on the child. The child’s response could be to withdraw their own interest in the hope the parent would back up. As a fix, parents should sometimes to take a step back and give the child room to learn their own way.
4. Book them into competitions
Have you considered that maybe a student’s boredom could be because the lessons don’t challenge them enough? A student may feel like they are wasting their time on stuff that’s too easy and would rather be doing something more challenging. But, of course, students can’t simply forgo one part of their training. Often, such a student is difficult to manage and may stretch your patience, but patience is the key.
5. Lighten the student’s workload
A music student’s boredom may be a symptom of struggling to cope with the demands of the lessons. The lessons could be too fast paced, too long, or the concepts too technical for the student to make sense of in the time they have available. The student may be too embarrassed to admit this and may think to withdraw their interest as way to deal with this.
Try to lighten the work the student has to do in the lessons and see if it doesn’t help. If they are finding the lessons too fast or too challenging, it may help to slow down a bit.
Research ways of helping slower learners without necessarily telling them that could be the reason they are struggling. Student may not admit it to you that they are finding the lessons too demanding. It is your job to determine this and come up with a corrective formula.
It Won’t be Easy, But It’s Worth The Effort
The tips discussed here may not necessarily fix the problem you are having with your own student, but slight variations might. You can even combine a few, or add your own. Be patient as you may need to work hard before your student beats his boredom.
Each student will have their own unique challenges and will call for remedies specific for their particular situation. But even if it is the last thing you do, don't give up on a struggling student, for which boredom could be the main symptom.
About the Author: Brian Collins
I am a classically trained singer who believes that every instrument requires maintenance - including the voice! I started my professional music studies at the age of 8 and competed in and won several local and state piano competitions. I graduated with honors and earned my Bachelor of Music Education in 2003, and since then I have studied with famous musicians and teachers around the world. I have also completed hundreds and hundreds of voice lessons, exploring various methods, and attended countless seminars on voice coaching for all ages.