Motivating Learners

Fully engaged students will be more motivated to learn, but this has always been a challenge in large middle school choirs.  By giving students more responisibility to share their thoughts rather than merely reacting to a conductor, the environment becomes a partnership.  The Gradual Release Model helps students begin to own their own learning.  They work collaboratively to discuss their thinking.  Below is an excellent classroom example of a teacher empowering students to do their own thinking to solve problems and come up with their own ideas.

Initially the philosophy attributed to Paulo Freire, this collaborative learning model called Critical Pedagogy is an important tool in today’s choral rehearsals for motivating students.  Using the Critical Pedagogy model, the conductor seeks the input of students throughout the rehearsal as partners in community music making.  This strategy empowers students to share their opinions and ideas about how to improve their own performance, resulting in learning which is both energizing as well as engaging.  Students who share responsibility for their own learning are more invested, and therefore comprehension improves and becomes more satisying.  

In the teaching demonstration below, the teacher engages the students through active warm-ups, questions, movement, and seeking their input about details in the musical score.  In 7 minutes, he develops a rapport that will keep them motivated and wanting to learn how to sing better.  

The student voice and choice in what they choose to study is an important component of motivating students.  In a choral rehearsal, there are opportunities in having students choose which piece to study, which popular song to sing, and what kinds of warm-ups they would like to do that day.  Below is an example of how students feel when they are given more choice in their own music making experiences.