Last year I decided to change the name of my business from Wholesome Harmonies Music Therapy to Wholesome Harmonies, LLC.

The reason I made this change is that I started receiving calls for not just music therapy, but for piano and guitar lessons as well. I wanted the name of my business to reflect the fact that we not only offer music therapy, but music lessons and developmental music programs as well!

I really enjoy giving guitar lessons. And I’ve come to find that there are three things that motivate my guitar students like nothing else:

Stickers, Musical Games, and Taylor Swift.

It took me a while to find that magic combination, but it has certainly helped motivate my students to practice and continue improving their guitar skills. Here’s how I use these “tools”:

I think it’s safe to assume everyone knows how stickers work when it comes to music lessons! When a page in a student’s lesson book can be played with ease AND they’ve practiced that week, they get to choose a sticker to put on that page. Sounds obvious, but surprisingly it took me a while to start incorporating these little gems into my lessons (with amazing results!)

Musical Games
Here is a post where I describe some Musical Games I use when teaching piano lessons to children. Games such as Go Fish and Memory help break up the lesson and provide a fun and motivating way to learn musical symbols. I recently added “I Spy” to the Musical Game lineup. We open to a random page in the lesson book and say “I spy, with my little eye…..a treble clef!” Then the other person must point out the musical symbol or note that was named. Another variation is “I spy, with my little eye….a note that’s worth two beats!” These games can be used to break up the lesson (when fingers start to get sore) or can be used as a reward at the end of a lesson.

Taylor Swift
I will admit it here…I really do like Taylor Swift. As much as I try to fight it, I always end up liking her songs. From the perspective of a music lesson teacher, her songs are a DREAM! Most of her songs use I, IV, and V chords, which makes it very easy for beginning guitar students. Since she plays most of her songs on guitar, they naturally sound good as acoustic songs during lessons (so we don’t have to try and replicate some techno or electronic song!) Of course, you’ll want to find songs that your students prefer and incorporate those into your lessons. I just so happen to have students who love Taylor, and I’m not complaining.

The combination of stickers, musical games, and Taylor Swift songs have provided an added layer of enjoyment and motivation to the lessons I teach. This is crucial because learning a new instrument is not always easy and fun. Sometimes fingers hurt. Sometimes you’d rather play outside than practice. But I can see these little “tools” help motivate my students to continue to practice and improve.

What “tools” do you use to motivate your students during lessons? Leave a comment below – we’d love to know!

 *All pictures used with parental consent*