MUSIC 4 LIFE, LLC

Motivating teachers and students in the world of music

Prioritize Your Practice Routine, a Music poster for sale by JW Pepper


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Practice Room Motivation for Musicians of All Ages

How to Motivate Music Students to Practice

One of the primary issues I confront when dealing with students’ music motivation is inertia and its alter-ego, procrastination–the inability to physically enter a practice room facility (too tired; too bored; too busy) with the intention of improving their musical skills and the perpetual postponement of practicing.

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Students often have “good intentions,” but frequently have poor follow-through as regards committing to their practicing.  In essence, they may walk past the practice room without actually entering the door.  They become immobilized and unable to make the necessary personal commitment to practicing.  As I often say, “If you want to be great, don’t procrastinate!”

Don't Procrastinate Music Poster for ClassroomsDon’t Procrastinate Music Poster for Classrooms

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What can be done to override this dilemma?

Firstly, the student needs to take ownership of his or her musical development. Teachers can motivate and inspire students to certain degrees, but ultimately the student needs to “buy in” to the philosophy that they are controlling their own destiny based upon how devoted they are or are not to becoming an excellent musician.

If and when the student embraces this concept, then the issues of hard work; discipline and determination become self-motivators.  This philosophy also applies to younger students, too.  With constant reinforcement and guidance by their teachers on a daily or weekly basis, they become indoctrinated to this mindset and will achieve beyond their expectations.

Hard Work Motivational Wall PosterHard Work Motivational Wall Poster

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However, this approach must be reinforced consistently and without excuses or exceptions.  Students will test teachers, but the teacher, much like a parent, must remain resolute and unwavering in their convictions and approach.Secondly, students need to learn how to enjoy the process of making music–be it practicing or performing.  Obviously, practicing is a necessary prerequisite or prelude to a performance.
If you are not properly prepared to perform your musical selections at the highest possible level, then the overall experience is not a positive one.
Practicing is a necessity  and a positive attitude  is of critical importance during the practice regimen.  If it is fun, you will be inclined to want to practice.  Conversely, if you have a poor attitude, practicing will be sheer drudgery.

Attitude is Everything Motivational PosterAttitude is Everything Motivational Poster

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Ultimately, your mindset is up to  each individual, but it helps if your teacher encourages you to enjoy the practice experience.

Tips for Practicing Music

  1. Incorporate music that is shorter in duration and fun to play into your practice routine.  Not every song has to be overly difficult and long.  Build your repertoire (memorized pieces) with a cross-section of selections that vary in degrees of complexity.  Playing music that you are innately attracted to in various styles and idioms will also motivate you to learn that piece and many others like it.
  2. Pick some songs that enable you to improvise (use your creativity to manipulate the songs harmonic, melodic and rhythmic parameters).  This will also enhance your enjoyment of practicing and making music and may rejuvenate you.
  3. Play some duets with another instrumentalist or vocalist.  Practicing with others can be very invigorating.  Remember: music is a communicative art form that is best shared with others.
  4. Audio or video tape yourself practicing.  It’s not only fun to watch and/or listen to yourself practicing, but it’s also an invaluable educational experience.
Pass this onto fellow teachers and if you have some practice tips please leave your idea below.
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Attitude is Everything

If you want to succeed in the music business or any business for that matter, make sure that you develop a positive; helpful; flexible and friendly attitude. Remember: people like to work with colleagues that are intrinsically pleasant and cooperative individuals.

So, don’t develop a negative, irritable and arrogant attitude that will ultimately damage your career…and your personal life.

Attitude is Everything Poster

This sounds easy and really it is when you think about it, but it cooperation takes practice and a concerted effort.  You must bring these traits in the room with you each time you work with others

Flexible Can Do Attitude: bring to any conversation or business dialog a can do attitude, don’t let obstacles get in your way, but  be the person who can find solutions to the bumps in the road

Care Attitude: truly care about your work, the people around you and the project. If you don’t care the project will not be a success

Friendly & Cheerful Attitude: smile, no one likes to work with people who complain, whine, or show up to the Monday morning meeting with a chip on their shoulder

Honesty Attitude: be honest and sincere in what you do, be truthful and don’t have hidden agendas.

Helpful Attitude: be willing to help others succeed, give assistance, and be the first to offer assistance

Classroom Teaching Moment

Teachers: Use this poster to start discussions about attitude in your class and tie this into the Character Counts lessons at your school.

Band Directors: In so many instances could this poster be used for musical moments and trying times in the band room

  • Marching band horn section is whining and complaining it’s too cold to march outside
  • The students in the Monday morning don’t really want to be in class and therefore play their instrument with little effort

Can you think of others opportunities to use this poster in your classroom, or an attitude problem that could be addressed with a change of attitude? Add them below in the comment section.


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Musical Focus is No Hocus-Pocus

One skill musicians need to learn is how to focus. In every facet of life learning to focus on one task, or prioritizing high payoff activities is a challenge, especially in the social media world in which we live.  Our lives are surrounded by technology, cell phones, instant Facebook notifications, tweets, beeps, and this overload of stimulation makes it a  challenge to stay focused.

Research done by Scientific Reports has proven that listening to music you like actually improves focus. It is ironic that the same trait which make musicians creative individuals also work against us in our struggle to FOCUS. Yes, I said it, musicians and artists have a higher incidence of ADD (attention deficit disorder), but does that really surprise you?

Musical Focus is no Hocus Pocus, Inspiring and motivating posters for music teachers and educators from JW PepperMusical Focus is No Hocus Pocus

Importance of Musical Focus

Musicians tend to fall into one of the following two categories:

  1. Those that maintain their musical focus.
  2. Those that lose their musical focus.

Musicians that possess a bona fide ability to maintain their focus when performing are inclined to play accurately and maintain a high level of musical excellence. These musicians remain poised, relaxed and confident throughout their execution of the music, because they rely upon their training, preparation, composure and ability to remain focused as they navigate comfortably throughout the entirety of the composition.

Alternatively, musicians who for one reason or another have not developed the ability to remain focused during a performance, tend to play inaccurately and are prone to losing their place within the music.

Moreover, when they perform, they are very susceptible to the infamous “crash-and-burn syndrome,” which can totally derail their performance with catastrophic results–something to be avoided at all costs!

In some instances, musicians that fall into this latter category can overcome their lack-of-focus, which often results in performance anxiety and other musical insecurities, with proper training from a skilled professional musician.

In addition to developing more consistent musical focus with the input from an esteemed professional in their field, they need lots of experience performing in front of people in a variety of contexts and venues in order to better solidify this technique.


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Preparation Requires Planning

It has been just two years since I stood outside Steve’s music room in 100F heat hunched over his patio photographing mallets in the blazing hot sun. I had no idea that a year later we would be launching a music poster line with J.W. Pepper and introducing our creations to the music industry. But, all of this didn’t come about without planning.

My initial plan was to create new graphics for Steven’s website that would be “PIN” worthy on Pinterest. I planned ahead of time to bring matte boards of various colors, I planned to create negative space in the photographs for text, and I was prepared when I arrived. The results was beautiful images which incorporated Steven’s “Raybineisms” (words of wisdom) and when we were ready to approach national music industry distributors with our motivational posters I was prepared and called J.W. Pepper

Preparation requires prior planning. Motivational poster for music teachers, business and classrooms from JW PepperPreparation Requires Prior Planning

  • Are you chronically late for rehearsals and performances;
  • Do you forget to pack essential musical equipment when you perform;
  • Do you bring the necessary music to engagements and do you practice your parts in advance of the performance;
  • Do you bring the appropriate clothing for shows; Do you return all phone calls, texts, messages and emails promptly;
  • Are your instruments in proper playing conditions at all times; If you’re a band leader, do you pay your musicians in a timely manner?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these scenarios, you are not sufficiently prepared for your obligations as a contemporary musician. Think ahead and anticipate what is expected of you as a professional musician. Above all, be prepared; be prompt and plan ahead for all musical situations.

How has a lack of planning affected your life?

Did you lose a gig? Where you asked to leave a team, or band group because of your chronic procrastination or preparation for the gig?

If you know of a good way to stay prepared leave a comment below. Share your expertise and experience so others may not have the same fate.