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“How to motivate students in classroom mandatory music lessons?”

My experience teaching mandatory violin lessons during school time could have been more positive. Misbehavior, no engagement, no routine of practicing, and a deficient level of playing were some of the factors causing frustration in my teaching practice. Luckily, this frustration became an urge to change this situation and search for approaches to motivate the students in the context of mandatory music lessons. Action research and case study approaches were used for an intervention of three weeks in three different classrooms, with kids from 8-9 years old, from grade 5 at the Dutch Primary School system. Lesson plans were designed based on the principles of the Self-Determination Theory by Deci and Ryan (1985), with activities and strategies addressing the three innate psychological needs: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Logbooks were also used as a way of stimulating the self-regulation of the students. The intervention showed that encouraging the students' autonomy was the best way to motivate them, and that can be done through simple activities that can be easily implemented in the lessons. Increasing their autonomy in several activities also added to their feeling of competence and relatedness. Using the logbook to track their practice was also a powerful tool to help them practice and boost their motivation.

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