Self-Controlled Practice

In most music lessons, teachers determine the training protocol. For example, students are given goals to practice and prepare for the next lesson. Much of this is done by the student alone. Ideally, the situation would one in which the student is able to set goals and problem-solve, however, this is usually only the case for advanced students. For beginner and intermediate students, teachers generally give explicit instructions for the coming weeks practice. The majority of students take a passive role.

Students taking an active role, or self-regulating their learning, are much more likely to achieve than passive learners. Self-controlled or self-regulating practice is believed to be beneficial, as the student has an active involvement in the learning process, thus increasing motivation and effort. Often, the routine the student devises for their self-controlled learning will be more aligned to their preferences or needs, which might also enhance learning.

The majority of students will not know how to develop these self-regulating skills on their own. Merely assigning the completion and repetition of various pieces, difficult passages, and technical work, is not developing the problem-solving and self-regulating skills of the learner. Teachers should also consider ways to teach their students strategies which assist in the development of problem-solving and self-regulation in the practice routines of their students.

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