The Spark is what I call that inner drive to do well at anything. I mostly talk about it in teaching. Some people call it grit. When it happens to a student, I see a literal spark in them. Many teachers ask me how I get students to practice. Let’s be honest - some of them don’t and most of them have lapses in practicing. The students who are consistently practicing at home have The Spark. They want to do well. They recognize that putting in work between lessons yields amazing results, and they get hooked on the path of preparation and confidence. It boosts their self esteem and self worth.
What do you do with students who don't come prepackaged with The Spark? Some teachers choose to not deal with them and discontinue lessons immediately. I have a different take. I do everything I can to get The Spark to show up in a student. It involves digging deep into figuring out what makes that student tick. You have to understand the student as a person and what they value. Once The Spark starts to show itself a little, you have to ignite that thing like crazy! Huge amounts of praise and congratulations, showing them how much they grew in only one week, etc.
Sometimes the catalyst for The Spark comes from competition. If a student knows an audition is coming up, they suddenly start practicing more. Sometimes it comes from motivation from their parents and/or me. Sometimes it comes from being praised by a band director for the first time. Whatever triggers The Spark, you have to keep withdrawing money from that bank!
The Spark isn’t there for everyone, and that’s okay. I have a trial period for lessons of 4-6 months. If The Spark doesn’t happen in that period of time, I have a conversation with the parents and student about lessons not being the right thing, or maybe I’m not the right teacher.
I tell students when they get The Spark. It’s something to be celebrated. I got The Spark in the 8th grade. When did you get yours?
Here are my top 5 ways to get students to practice. You can download it here: