Motor Skills, Motivation, and Musical Practice
Using Self-Regulation to Unlock Musical Success (Gary E. McPherson)
Using Self-Regulation to Unlock Musical Success My interest as a music researcher who holds a fascination for studying the development of expertise from novice to professional levels was brought into focus as a result of studying educational psychology in the late 1980s. Much of the literature on skills development in music during this time was concerned with practice habits and the amount of time needed to practice deliberately in order to achieve success. The late 1980s was a period of enormous growth in educational psychology so there were many studies to read and digest. However, at the time, one particular article by Ames (1986), a major theorist in the area of educational motivation, caught my attention and forever changed my thinking. In a seminal chapter titled Effective motivation: the contribution of the learning environment Ames states “positive motivation is more than the demonstration of effortful activity or even time spent on a task. It is reflected in how students think about themselves, the task and their performance” (p. 236). In her chap- ter, Ames (1986) explained how motivational processes are influenced by the context of one’s learning experience. For Ames, the question was not how to get students (or in our case ‘musicians’) more motivated to practice harder and more efficiently, but to seek explanations of why and how learners process or concentrate on different sources of information, come to value some goals more than others, and use different metacog- nitive processes to evaluate their own and others performance along...
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