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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000356.txt from 2000/04

From: "Dee D. Hays" <>
Subj: [kl] Student motivation
Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 12:54:06 -0400

I'm just going to throw in some random thoughts as a parent and a

Until a child hits the middle of their high school years or so, I believe
that they should be sampling as broad a range of activities as possible.
Thus if the teacher wanted my daughter to practice two hours per day I would
find a different teacher. Such intense focus makes it difficult if not
impossible to sample other activities. The exception would be that if my
child was already so interested in music that it looked like they would make
a career of it and they themselves actually wanted to spend all their free
time practicing.

In the sophomore or junior year, the student should start narrowing his/her
focus and selecting the activities and the level of participation that they
consider important. Regarding music, they can take many approaches. One of
these is participation only as a listener. Another level is to decide to
keep it as a hobby. In this case they might desire basic competence and
lessons to achieve it but two hours practice per day is unreasonable for
this level. They might decide to be a music educator. Again heavy practice
on a single instrument is unreasonable as they will need to pick up basic
competence on a range of instruments. Finally they might decide they want
to be a performer. Then and only then is it appropriate to expect a heavy
practice schedule.

I know that many of the instructors out there are sincere and dedicated
people. Yet students' and parents' goals must be considered. Music can
fill many niches in a person's life. It is not necessary to train every
student as a potential Juilliard candidate or the next Stanley Drucker.
Many students and parents just seek the basic competence that the structure
and workload in the school systems hinder the school's teachers from
achieving. By the way, my definition of basic competence is fairly high so
don't think I'm espousing mediocrity. Any clarinetist who has studied for 7
or 8 years (the length of most school programs) should be able to do a
passable job on something like Weber's Concertino.

As far as letting grades slide in other subjects, that shouldn't be
tolerated. The homework assigned in most schools just isn't that heavy,
especially if the student takes just the requirements for graduation so that
they have study hall time. If my daughter were failing English, all
extracurricular activities inside and outside of school would *immediately*
cease. Competence in the core subjects cannot be neglected. It won't do
you much good to land a symphony position if you've got to hire some one to
read your bills for you and hire an accountant to handle ordinary household

When I taught martial arts, I required all my school age students to bring
in their report cards. If their grades slipped, they had to bring them up
to be allowed to continue. For new enrollees, those who were failing had to
commit to a sincere attempt to bring them up and I checked their next report

Afterall if a music teacher can assign two hours practice each day, why
shouldn't the English, math, and science teachers, etc assign two hours
homework per class each day. They "might" be training the next Pulitzer or
Nobel prize winner. Of course, the student has to give up sleeping but it's
worth it.

Bottom line. As teachers, yes you should be conscientious and help the
student's achieve their goals. But to say they are not motivated simply
because they do not want a heavy practice schedule and are content to move
at a slower pace fails to recognize the goals of the student.

Dee Hays
Canton, SD

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