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Increase music practice with self-assessments

Updated: May 30

As the end of the school year approaches, many of us are preparing to downshift into a more relaxed summer session. This natural transition is the perfect time to ask your students to complete a self-assessment.

Why are self-assessments important? Student motivation often comes from extrinsic rather than intrinsic sources.(We tell them they need to practice more, and they adjust accordingly. We tell them what musical skills need improvement, and they focus on these areas, and so on.)  A self-assessment asks student to reflect on their own progress, skills, and goals so they invest more energy and thought into their own learning. This is key to increasing music practice and self-motivation.

Check out my self-assessment

When should students complete a self-assessment? I strongly recommend that students complete a self-assessment in a lesson rather than at home. Why?

  • First, students are more likely to give thoughtful answers if there is quiet time carved out for them to do so. A busy home environment is not an opportune place for this to happen.

  • Second, the assessment process should be interactive between you and the student. If the student struggles with how to answer a question, you can prompt them with examples. Once the assessment is complete, you and the student can discuss their answers to set goals and identify areas for future improvement. This encourages the student to be more engaged in their own learning which positively affects student motivation. 

Shouldn’t students play in their lesson, not complete written work? In my experience, the answer to this is an emphatic NO - especially when it comes to self-assessments. This activity encourages a critical skill: assessing the habits, assumptions, and challenges that shape our musical practice and experience. It's important that students have dedicated time to focus on this task, which is much more likely to happen in lessons under your supervision. The results can greatly improve student’s self-motivation and practice effectiveness. And parents will appreciate how thoughtfully and holistically you approach lessons, which increases perceived value. 

What type of self-assessment should I use? To have the desired impact of increasing student self-motivation and motivating students to practice more, self-assessments should ask the student specific questions that encourage reflection. For example, one question from my self-assessment reads, 

What was your greatest challenge in lessons this year? What steps did you take to address this challenge?

This question helps them identify specific areas they struggled with and also the "toolbox" of skills they've learned to help them overcome these challenges. I also ask students to rate their level of practice dedication, what skills they’d most like to improve, and other questions.

3 takeaways:

  • Student self-assessments are a key method of increasing student motivation and practice effectiveness.

  • Far from being a waste of time, self-assessments completed under your supervision are key to helping students invest more in their own musical growth.

  • To be most effective, a self-assessment should encourage the student to self-reflect on their progress, skills, and goals.

Don’t have time to design a self-assessment? Get a copy of mine.

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