Motivation is a Tricky Thing…

Just as you now need to understand a variety of learning styles in order to teach a group of people, you need to pay attention to what motivates people in order to get your group to the "next level" (whatever that is for your particular circumstance). Some people (and groups) need a proverbial kick in the behind, but my experience is that, over the long haul, that technique loses its effectiveness.

At the same time, I've always believed in the intelligence of the members of my musical groups. Sometimes I use the "Wooden way" (I'm reading the new biography of John Wooden by Seth Davis, and, so far, it is a great book). Stop: explain the problem, give the fix, and restart...all in a 15 second span. More and more lately, though, I just talk to my group as if they have all the experience and background that I have. In some ways they do, because the more I talk to them as equals...and expect from them the same level of passion and commitment...the more they know what I know.

This latter approach actually engenders some very thoughtful and probing questions. When that happens, I get the chance to elaborate (time permitting) on very sophisticated, subtle aspects of music making. In the process, I figure out what kinds of things certain musicians get stymied by. Plus, I've found that if one person asks a question, generally at least one other person in the room benefits from the answer...and generally a lot more people than that.

If you've been following along, you know that I don't have much patience...especially for unwillingness to learn, or intransigence about knowing it all. But sometimes, in order to motivate people, you have to give up part of your rehearsal time to just explain stuff. Trust is worth it in the long run.

So, from time to time, I encourage you to circle back to your own set of "fundamentals." Revisit the things that make your group go, and help them do better. It's one of the best motivational techniques ever...

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