314: Replay – Research-Backed Insights on Piano Student Retention with Karen Gerelus

In today’s replay episode, we’re having a chat with Karen Gerelus about her research on piano student retention. We discussed the key factors on why students are quitting and some techniques to keep them engaged. We also talked about what motivates kids externally at the start and how the intrinsic motivation will take over. Karen also shared why teachers are often quite resistant to offering autonomy in their lessons and how giving students show-off pieces boosts their confidence levels and help retain their interest in playing.

In this episode, you’ll learn how extrinsic and intrinsic motivation affects piano student retention:

  • A short introduction on Karen and her studio.
  • Karen talks about her research work called Parting Ways with Piano Lessons – comparing motivation between continuing and dropout piano students.
  • Focusing on piano student retention in her research.
  • Key factors for students quitting.
  • The impact of parents being in the music lesson.
  • Self-Determination Theory
  • Motivating kids externally at the start is okay. Hopefully, the intrinsic will take over.
  • Karen shares her own story on quitting and coming back to piano.
  • Karen explains the quote “There is no relationship between practice time and motivation.”
  • Thoughts for teachers about practicing and having a tough-love stance, a hard stance on, or being relaxed about it.
  • Karen talks about what she found out about students dropping out because of the lack of popular repertoire.
  • The reason why teachers are often quite resistant to offering autonomy in musical choice in their lessons.
  • Giving students show-off pieces to boost their confidence and retain their interest.
  • Recommendations for bridging the gap between external motivation and internal self-motivation in students.
  • Karen talks about the most basic point of her research.

Guest Links

Links Mentioned

Today’s Guest

314: Replay - Research-Backed Insights on Piano Student Retention with Karen Gerelus

Dr. Karen Gerelus is a third-generation piano teacher, musician, author, and scholar. She has completed an Associate diploma in Piano Pedagogy from the Royal Conservatory of Music (ARCT) and a Licentiate diploma in Piano Performance from Trinity College of London (LTCL). In 2010, she convocated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Arts, and in 2016 with a Master of Arts in Piano Pedagogy from the University of Ottawa. She recently finished her PhD at the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary where her research focused on musical identities in adolescent piano students. Her other areas of interest include student-centered learning, arts-based research, and motivation.

Past teachers and examiners have commented on Karen’s “passion for teaching” and “warm and engaging manner.” Her lessons involve a variety of music – from minuets to mambos to Mission Impossible – to keep students motivated and teach sensitivity and compassion for all cultures and musical styles. Overall, her students play with beautiful technique, singing melodies, and high levels of personal satisfaction. Karen is an interesting balance of friendly and sophisticated, fun yet rigorous, and she is always full of new ideas.

Thank you for tuning in!

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