How long to do you intend to play your instrument for?

How long to you intend to play your instrument for? A simple question music teachers should ask their students. How long to do you intend to play your instrument for? A longitudinal (10-year) study of young beginner music students by McPherson, Davidson, and Faulkner (2012) revealed that this question has the most predictive power of levels of achievement and ongoing engagement.  


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  Participants were asked open-ended questions about how long they thought they would continue playing their instrument. Three categories of responses emerged: short-term, medium-term, and long-term. Students who ceased instrumental tuition within one year expressed a short-term commitment response such as “I’ll play one or two years and then change instruments” or “I don’t want to be a musician when I grow up. I think I’ll quit when I’m about 13.” Typically, the short-term commitment participants also had the least amount of daily practice of 3.49 minutes, where as participants who expressed a long-term commitment had more daily minutes of practice of up to nine minutes a day.

It is a simple question to ask and the response can indicate to teachers the future commitment of new music students.


McPherson, Davidson, and Faulkner (2012). Music in our lives. Rethinking musical ability, development, and identity.

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