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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Willie, Jessie. “Teaching Kids to Practice"

Jesse Willie, is a music teacher at a small intermediate school who wrote an article called Teaching Kids to Practice. He believes that by starting out with extrinsic motivators, it can lead to intrinsic motivators, creating effective practice habits for children. He also believes that there is nothing more powerful than a child's own self-motivation. Willie is writing the article in hopes of encouraging fellow music teachers, who are in a similar position as him. Throughout Willie's article, he does not use other studies to back his opinion, instead he uses his own observation to get his point across. Since he does not back his claim by other sources, it makes the reader wonder if Willie, is indeed credible. For one to agree with Willie's claim, they first must take a deeper look into the meanings of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators, and see if his study has been repeated by others.

Willie starts his article off by giving the example of instant gratification. He claims that the world we live in now, has a negative effect on a child's patience and attention span. He wonders how students can learn an instrument if they rarely practice on their own time? For example, a typical student won't take the time to practice an instrument because he/she wants the results fast! By starting the article off with this example, it intrigues the reader. However, Willie has no studies or sources to back his observation/claim, raising questions about his claim. Taking a deeper look into his thinking and exploring it more, Willie's opinion seems to be accurate. Many different articles are also pointing in the same direction. One article states, “A child may have difficulty entertaining him or herself without electronic devices. These children are less likely to play outside, may lose interest in toys, show a lack of motivation, and have very few hobbies and interests other than their electronics,” (Ortiz). This statement backs up Willie's point which can relate to not having an interest in playing a musical instrument. Another article posted in Medical Daily says that Microsoft performed a study and found that the attention span in humans has decreased from 12 seconds to 8 seconds in the last decade (Borreli). By looking at both of these statements and Willie's observation, he makes a valid point. How can students begin practicing again with an all time low of attention span and patience?

Willie believes that the use of extrinsic motivators can help educators see their progress in their students. Extrinsic motivators are defined as, “behavior that is driven by external rewards such as money, fame, grades, and praise,” (Cherry). Willie needed something that would motivate his kids to practice their instruments, so he created band bucks. Every time a student would practice their instrument for a certain amount of time, they receive a band buck. With the band-bucks, the student could buy prizes based on the amount of bucks they had. Willie saw major improvements in his students just by using an extrinsic motivator.However, just because the use of extrinsic motivator works for Willie, it doesn't necessarily means it works for others. Readers might have a hard time believing Willie because he doesn't have any other examples from outside sources that could back his reasoning. Generally speaking, extrinsic motivators do work in most occasions. For example, someone might work overtime so they can have a bigger paycheck. Willie's idea behind band-bucks to motivate students to practice more, was very beneficial. This example can help jump start educators who need something to help inspire their students.

Although extrinsic motivators seem genius, extrinsic motivators can “sometimes back fire,” (Cherry). Willie saw that in his own situation. Kids mostly practiced to  receive the band buck, but never really “practiced.” The kids were having trouble passing their benchmarks. Willie made an important realization. If extrinsic motivators are not used for their main purpose (help kids have self-motivation), it can be abused and kids will not progress. However, Willie made it clear to his students that the purpose of the band-buck was to make them better musicians. The students then understood and began taking matters into their own hands by being self-motivated. Essentially, “Once some intrinsic interest has been generated and some essential skills have been established, the external motivators should be slowly phased out,” (Cherry).

Willie states that the sole purpose of the extrinsic motivators is that they will no longer be needed. Most can agree that Willie's claim is correct but again he does not have any sources to help support his claim. Intrinsic motivation is defined as the internal desire to do something for your own sake (Bernazzani). Willie gives an example of how one of his kids became intrinsically motivated. He states that it is important to teach kids motivation when they are young, because it can have a huge affect on them when they are older. That is essentially true. A research project was done on 130 babies born in Fullerton, CA, and found that one of their most significant finding was motivation. They found that kids who were intrinsically motivated were more likely to become leaders and motivated in whatever they do. They also found that parents who encourage their kids at a young age and stressed the importance of self-motivation, had kids who had higher intrinsic motivation and achievement (Haggerty). One psychologist stated, “So what you are doing at age nine not only has an immediate impact but also a follow-up impact over time,”(Haggerty). This study fully backs up Willie's claim and says practically the same idea Willie is trying to stress.

At the end of the article Willie talks about the importance of self-motivation and how “success breeds success.” Anyone can agree that this statement is true, especially educators. At first it was hard to deem Willie as credible because he had no sources or studies to back his claims and theories. But taking a deeper look into his theory, it seems that almost all of them can be verified by another person, article, etc. Realizing that his claims and articles line up, one can agree that Willie is indeed credible. He pointed out some very interesting information and this article can further help educators see the result they want to see in their own students.

Work Cited

Bernazzani, Sophia. “Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation: What's the Difference?” HubSpot Blog,

Borreli, Lizette. “Human Attention Span Shortens To 8 Seconds Due To Digital Technology: 3 Ways To Stay Focused.” Medical Daily, 14 May 2015,

Cherry, Kendra, and Steven Gans. “How Does Extrinsic Motivation Influence Behavior?” Verywell Mind, Verywellmind,

Haggerty, Rebecca. “Highly Motivated Kids Have a Greater Advantage in Life than Kids with a High IQ.” Quartz, Quartz, 19 Dec. 2017,

Ortiz, Adrianne Albarado. “Negative Effects of Technology on Children.” San Angelo, San Angelo Standard-Times, 30 Aug. 2018,

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