6 Universal Truths on Motivating Musicians to Practice


Encore Tours Etude Symposium Speakers

Every ensemble director faces this universal challenge: motivating musicians to practice.

In the search for answers, Encore Tours and 70 music directors set sail to the Boston Harbor on May 17th for a three hour Etude Symposium on “Motivating Musicians to Practice”. The symposium was led by four expert presenters in the field of music education:

  • Dr. Carolyn Watson, Orchestra Director at Interlochen Arts Academy
  • Jared Cassedy, 2015 GRAMMY Music Educator Award recipient
  • Gerald Dolan, Director of Fine Arts for Ipswich, MA Schools
  • Robert Franzblau, Associate Professor of Music at Rhode Island College and author of “So You Want To Be A Music Major

While each presenter had their own unique methods of motivating practice, together they agreed on these primary philosophies:

  1. In order to accomplish anything as an ensemble member, you need to practice.
  2. Nobody is a born “practicer”; it requires hard work and is a habit that is developed.
  3. It’s not how much time you practice; it’s how well you practice. Good practice habits are taught by setting a goal for each practice session. Fifteen minutes of goal-oriented practice is more beneficial than an unfocused hour. Ultimately, you get out of practice what you put into it!
  4. Practice is a partnership involving the musician, the teacher, and the family. A supportive practice atmosphere requires a quiet place, respect, and positive encouragement. If you’re a musician living with non-musicians, take them to concerts and listen to music together to help them understand and respect your musical journey.
  5. Practice leads to self-discipline and self-motivation. It can also lead to a lifetime of satisfaction in all aspects of life.
  6. Pursue your passion and never give up. If you do feel like giving up, review your goals and recommit to one musical activity that will help you prevail.

Each of the four speakers on the Boston Harbor cruise shared the determination that is required to be successful. They never quit. They followed their passion, and in turn, not only motivated the musicians in their own ensembles, but they also motivated the directors who joined them on the Etude Symposium.

Over the coming weeks, we will be posting highlights from each of the four presenters. Subscribe to the blog for updates and to receive ongoing music educator resources!


About the Author

Ward Dilmore

Ward Dilmore is a recently retired music teacher from Wilmington High School, MA where he grew his string orchestra from 12 students to over 450, in large part due to his incorporation of foreign travel into the program. Ward initially traveled with other companies, but once he found Encore, he never looked back. He has taken his ‘Strings Attached’ orchestra overseas with Encore 7 times, in total taking over 1,200 students abroad during his years at Wilmington.

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