The Most Irritating Question

You know what it is. Every child asks it when you present them with a multi-day or multi-week challenge or anything that requires consistent effort no matter how minimal. I have encountered this question many times during my teaching, and it irritates me every time. So…what is the most irritating question?

“What do I get if I do it?”

The real answer to the question is that the child gets a sense of accomplishment and gains new skills. They get to say, “I Did It!” Sadly, though, for today’s kids this has no value. Sadly again is that if you do come up with a prize, unless they see it as truly valuable they will refuse to do the assignment because to them it is not worth the effort. 

13 thoughts on “The Most Irritating Question

  1. LaDona's Music Studio says:

    Oh dear yes!
    No incentive programs for me this year – no prizes (they’ve become worthless, as you say). We’ll strive for something deeper and higher and loftier and more noble this year. Fine and Strong and Simple as Mole would say (Wind in the Willows).

    Easy to say this in August when lessons haven’t started yet!

    Ask me again about it in dark, dreary November and I may be in a different frame of mind…


  2. Bethany says:

    So, so true! It drives me crazy as well. I do a small candy as a reward for points that are earned for practicing but I have one student who sees no value in it, no matter what the reward might be. Thankfully, it’s only that one and I believe most of my students would get their practice in without the small reward. It’s always nice to know that other teachers are in the same boat!


    • fame1444 says:

      Bethany, this question irritates me so much that I do forget about the students who never ask it. The irony is that it’s usually the students who need to practice the most who demand a reward. Guess I will just have to keep my candy jar stocked. ‘Sigh’


  3. foxxpianostudio says:

    Hear! Hear! That one drives me crazy!!! The other thing that bothers me is students who do not say thank you when they do get something from me. I REALLY appreciate the one’s who do, but sadly they are the rare one’s.


  4. Laura B. says:

    I, too, have dropped the traditional prizes. A few months ago I started posting my students’ repertoire sheets: after a student masters and memorizes ten pieces, his or her list of repertoire pieces goes up on my studio wall. They seem to like the recognition they receive, and they like checking out the other students’ sheets.

    That gave me the idea to create a “Superstar” board where I’ll publicize accomplishments like “Caitlyn composed three new pieces this month!”, “Nathaniel uses correct fingering almost all the time now!”, and “Bridget now plays with beautifully curved fingers!” My hope is that the possibility of fame and recognition might actually encourage accomplishments like correct fingering and better hand position:)


  5. Lucca says:

    Well, in my case I give them stars. They never asked me for that and I never give them until they get confident with their work, but they like to know that if they master an excercise/piece they´ll get a brightly star on their music books and, of course, a chance for a place in a Recital. They love t he idea to play in front if their friends, family and everyone else that may like to hear them.
    Thanks to the old gods of asgard (hahaha) I´ve never run into a child with the Irritating-Q.


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