Effective Ways to Motivate Music Students

motivate students to practice

It’s remarkable what motivation can do for someone’s success, especially when it starts at a young age. Here you will find three key ways to motivate music students that will have a meaningful and long-lasting impact on their music studies, and their education as a whole.

Different Types of Motivation

When it’s time to get your students to practice more often and on their own it can be challenging, but when you motivate them in the right ways it’ll come more easily. When the student has rewards, attainable goals, and control it’s more realistic that these are the students that will want to practice.


This may seem like the most obvious way to motivate, but it is important to properly match the type of reward with the outcome, and what you want your student to get out of their efforts as a whole. For example, giving a piece of candy to your student every time they play a section of a song perfectly, may not add up. Rather, you can help them see the full picture by giving them a reward once they get the entire song down. That way, they will be rewarded by the ability to play a full song and a bigger reward at the end.

When a student can achieve a sense of accomplishment along with their reward, that has a longer-lasting effect and is harder to shake.


Setting goals can go a long way, especially if it is done with your student. Students are in a constant cycle of tests and requirements in their regular studies. While playing a big part in their education, music does not typically fall into the categories of statewide or standardized testing that other subjects might, and will likely not have the same kinds of pressure in terms of progress. Music education is a great way for students to progress on their own terms, guided by you, their teacher.

The kind of excitement that a student gets when they manage to master a piece is priceless. They are proud and can look back on their progress. Try to set goals with your students and see how they grow.

Friendly Competition

Nothing beats a little competition to get students going. Whether you teach a class with multiple students, or teach students separately as a part of your studio, setting up a competition or a game is a great way to motivate. Some teachers encourage their kids to compose their own songs and "enter" them with the winner getting to perform their song, or simply logging in practice hours.

Watch as students earn points and climb the leaderboard!

For example, teachers using Tonara Studio can set up a leaderboard for their students. Every time a student practices the app registers that they are playing and awards them points. Every 7 days the leaderboards update to show which students have been practicing the most. We've often heard of fellow students checking in on each other and encouraging more practice. Teachers can choose whether or not to give special rewards for practice hour achievements but most of the time, it's not even necessary because students love climbing that board!

Whatever ways you decide to motivate your students, consistency and ongoing encouragement are key. Music education is supposed to be an outlet for students, not another source of stress. With the right combination, your students will flourish and make you proud, and most importantly themselves.