The dictionary defines practice as ‘do repeatedly; work to gain skill; do habitually; put into action’

Motivation is defined as ‘that which makes a person act in a particular way; instigate; incite’

Susan Hallam, in ‘Instrumental Teaching’ (Heinemann: 1998 p 136) lists these activities as defining practice:

  • acquiring, developing and maintaining aspects of technique
  • learning new music
  • memorising music for performance
  • developing interpretation
  • preparing for performance

What else would you, as a string teacher, add to this list; and what are your views on the list as it stands?

The idea of learning a musical instrument is a very popular one with children, but it often happens that very quickly the learner realises that they cannot meet the dedication and discipline required for success, and therefore abandon their lessons and ultimately their aspirations. How can we, as music teachers address this issue? The key is surely motivating them to work, and in finding this key we need to question why they took up the instrument in the first place.

As approximately 75% of a child’s contact with their musical instrument is likely to be spent alone, a teacher needs to communicate to them strategies to cope with the idea of solitary and individual practice very early on in their learning experience.

A good teacher will provide the pupil with both the technical and musical skills to play the instrument, but also will develop the skills needed for independent learning. The very best teachers aim to make themselves redundant!

How do you go about creating the independent instrumentalist in your teaching practice?

Interested in developing your teaching skills to a higher level? Visit to see what the EUROPEAN STRING TEACHERS ASSOCIATION can offer you in terms of professional development?