Motivational Leadership Theories Applied to Music Pedagogy

October 1, 1985

The twin issues of motivation and leadership strategy are among the most significant and relevant concerns in music pedagogy. Yet, the average music teacher has, at best, only a passing acquaintance with the body of research and data available in these areas. Those who have studied the psychology of music have been introduced to basic teaching and learning paradigms, but seldom in music literature are the more detailed and focused subjects of motivation and leadership even mentioned. Until now, the predominant arena for research on motivation and leadership has been in the field of psychology, with primary application in business administration. In fact, every business administration student encounters one or more courses in this vital subject area. Such management courses teach the fundamental principles of effective motivation and leadership; they address the question of how best to achieve maximum potential from every worker. Through research and application, innovative and successful strategies have been developed over the past few decades. Music teachers could make invaluable use of this wealth of information in motivating all students to increased effort with greatly enhanced results. The time to raid the business community and pirate away management tactics has arrived! Music pedagogy stands to reap enormous benefits from such a foray.



A thirst for more insight in motivational techniques in music teaching clearly exists, as evidenced by the widespread application in recent years of the tenets of Timothy Gallwey's The Inner Game of Tennis.1 Books, articles, workshops and lectures have surfaced within the music community extolling the virtues of a nonjudgmental "Self 2" and the avoidance of pernicious competition. Music teachers throughout the country have adopted this quiet Zen philosophy which is as provocative as it is charming. So vigorous has been the embrace of the "Inner Game" that the power of its application has been greatly exaggerated through extension. The "Inner Game" offers an amorphous prescription for living, learning and teaching. Its message is to seek satisfaction in one's best effort. Such advice does diminish frustration and its attendant ills; unfortunately, it does not generate motivation. People are simply given the freedom and encouragement to self-actualize, with the assumption being that they already possess the need and ability to do so. Rarely has such a marred assumption enjoyed such popular support. Most students simply will not industriously and faithfully practice as the result of unobtrusive and gentle persuasion alone. Only those students who already understand and play the "Inner Game" will respond favorably to its pedagogical implementation. The non-players, comprising that great silent majority, will likely remain as unmotivated as ever. While the end goal for all teachers should ideally be to prepare students to be "Inner Game" players, reality suggests that they must employ alternative strategies to lead and motivate the legions of students who would otherwise fall far short of maximized effort and potential.



David McClelland, a Harvard psychologist, has written that "most people in this world, psychologically, can be divided into broad groups. There is that minority which is challenged by opportunity and willing to work hard to achieve something, and the majority which really does not care all that much."2 McClelland actually believes that only about ten percent of the population possesses a high level of n Ach (need for achievement). These people share three distinctive characteristics: 1) they assume personal responsibility through self-initiation; 2) they set moderately high goals that are challenging yet attainable; and 3) they demand immediate and precise feedback.3 Here are the true "Inner Game" players, the ones that are motivated for an indefinite period of time by intrinsic rewards of accomplishment and creativity. Interestingly, McClelland broadened his study to encompass the impact that n Ach has on entire societies and the economic trends of civilizations. He found, for instance, that an examination of the literature of 1925 Britain revealed a high n Ach quotient at a time when Empire and economy were ascendent. By 1950, though, the n Ach level had dropped well below the world average, a drop reflected in Britain's severe economic difficulties.4

For the chosen few who naturally possess high n Ach, the pedagogical task is simple: provide guidance, support, and feedback. For the students that comprise the other ninety percent, the challenge is far greater. Psychoanalysts have generally assumed that motives such as n Ach are developed only in childhood. McClelland, however, has reported some interesting studies which are beginning to undermine this traditional assumption. He has conducted several seminars for businessmen where he attempted to develop high n Ach in adults. The training teaches people to think, act, and talk like people with high n Ach and to set stimulating but realistic goals. These efforts have met with statistically significant successful results.5 While such early experiments have been promising, McClelland is the first to admit that no method yet exists for elevating n Ach with consistent assurance. Music teachers should surely attempt to alter the fundamental mind-set of low achievers by encouraging the pursuit of excellence, by setting inspirational but attainable goals, and by providing constant and accurate feedback. As laudable and essential as these pedagogical tactics prove to be, they remain unsuccessful with the majority of students in the short run. Other motivational techniques are required; happily, the psychology of motivational leadership has the answers.



The study of motivation is indeed ancient, finding its origin in the writings of Greek philosophers more than twenty-three centuries ago. Hedonism was posited as the prime mover; man's desire for comfort and pleasure has continued to serve as the foundation for philosophical thought over many subsequent centuries. Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham, and John Stuart Mill all explained motivation as an effort to maximize pleasure and minimize the pain. Implicit in the concept of hedonism is the assumption that operational decisions are predicated upon a totally conscious and rational plane. William James, in Principles of Psychology, was the first to openly question this view. He suggested that man cannot always remain consciously rational. James held that two additional factors—instincts and unconscious motivation—interact with rational processes. While psychologists today largely discount the role of instincts in human behavior, the importance of unconscious motivation basks in credibility, and Sigmund Freud deserves most of the credit for that. In essence, unconscious motivation implies that man is not consciously aware of all of his desires, while the existence of the unconscious leads to an inability to fully verbalize motivation or to always be aware of the true nature of one's goals.6

The Freudian view that man is not in complete rational control of his own destiny dealt a severe blow to human pride. The notion of unconscious motivation, though, operating in alliance with the rational self, does allow for a more complete understanding of the multivariate nature of human motivation, a nature that involves needs, drives and goals. Psychologists generally agree that man experiences a variety of needs and drives, but disagree on exactly what those basic needs and drives are. A number of motivation theories have thus been advanced, all of which share one common belief: motivation results from unsatisfied needs and drives. As Maslow said, "If we are interested in what actually motivates us and not in what has, will, or might motivate us, then a satisfied need is not a motivator."7 Other researches have substantiated the fact that satisfaction does not lead to motivation. A person may be entirely contented with a work environment that demands low productivity. Paradise for most people equals mediocrity. Obviously management/pedagogical intervention is necessary to nurture incentive. Motivation stems from a lack of consummate fulfillment of needs and drives; a state of cognitive dissonance exists between the status quo and the desired, and the desired may dwell in the conscious and/or unconscious mind. Incongruity leads to motivation.8



Maslow, Herzberg and Vroom have been the chief protagonists in championing the need, or content, theories of motivation. In 1943, Abraham Maslow published a classic paper which presented a comprehensive theory of motivation based upon a hierarchy of needs.9 Maslow felt strongly that the unconscious needs are fundamental in motivation theory. He also believed that certain needs are more prepotent, or pressing, than other needs, thus leading to the establishment of a hierarchy of needs of ordered prepotency. Maslow argued that each level of needs must be satisfied before the next level can command attention. As each rung of the hierarchical ladder is scaled, the next higher plateau of needs looms as the brass ring of motivation, the theory being that everyone shares common basic needs which yearn for fulfillment, and until each lower need is satisfied, individuals are unable to aspire to the higher-order needs.10 From a pedagogical standpoint, a teacher can facilitate the movement up the hierarchy by smoothing the way and focusing behavior. The five levels of needs, beginning with the most basic and prepotent, are:11

1) Physiological needs. The needs of food, shelter and clothing are examples, which, once satisfied, no longer function as motivators. Relevant examples in music would be adequate and accessible practice facilities, a satisfactory and properly tuned instrument, money for lessons and music, sufficient time for practice, etc. In many instances, a teacher who is aware of such problems can intervene, such as by helping the student find practice facilities, directing the student to a financial aid office, or planning a practice schedule.

2) Safety needs. Maslow was concerned with emotional as well as physical safety. Emotional safety in music suggests freedom from negative parental or peer pressure, a reduction of performance anxiety, an elimination of teacher hostility, etc. The teacher obviously has varying degrees of control over these areas.

3) Love needs. Most writers now refer to this as the belongingness need, or a sense of social or group support and interaction. The student does not want to feel that he is alone in his pursuits. Periodic group lessons, concert and contest attendance and participation, and contact with other people with similar interests are some of the pedagogical strategies that work to quench the thirst for belongingness.

4) Esteem needs. The needs for power, achievement and status are the driving forces at this level. The individual now wants to be recognized as a worthwhile person by others; self-concept is also important. The teacher can assist by offering positive encouragement and by preparing the student for successful performance.

5) Self-actualization needs. Self-actualization can occur only when a person is free from all the other lower needs. Maslow claims also that self-actualization is self-perpetuating. This level compares closely with the "Inner Game" precepts of an internally-fueled and enduring motivation that requires little external intervention beyond tactical support and guidance. The primary pedagogical responsibility here is to recognize the attainment of self-actualization and to grant the required freedom. Maslow eloquently describes self-actualization in this manner:

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can do, he must do. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.12

A teacher may seek also to foster "peak experiences" which are manifestations of self-actualization. Peak experiences are those high and rare bursts of transcendent ecstasy which leave a residue of white-hot inspiration.13 Emotionally-fired teaching can promote such revelations in students.

The pedagogical implementation of Maslow's theory hinges on the recognition of the stage or level through which an individual student is passing. Maslow's model provides for constant growth, but man is all too often satisfied with the status quo, leading to stagnation. As has already been pointed out, satisfaction does not lead to motivation. A student may well be content with his current level of accomplishment, or he may want to improve, but the motivational pull may not be strong enough to initiate and sustain the required effort. By identifying each student's journey through the hierarchy of needs, a teacher will be able to expedite the time spent at each lower level by offering intangible as well as tangible support and focused, directioned prodding. The strategy is to satisfy each level in turn as quickly as possible and then move on to the next one.



In the 1950s, Frederick Herzberg began conducting motivation experiments which built upon Maslow's hierarchy theory. Essentially, he agrees with Maslow, except he posits that the lower level needs, namely the physiological, safety and love needs cannot serve as motivators. Herzberg's research indicates a dichotomous role in needs; his theory is thus often called the Two Factor Theory. He argues that the lower needs—the hygiene factors—must be satisfied before motivation can occur.14 Only when a student has money for lessons, a practice facility, a positive emotional environment, a sense of social/group belongingness, etc., can the true motivators of esteem and self-actualization take place. Actually the difference between Herzberg and Maslow is a matter of refinement. Both recognize the hierarchical structure of needs, each level requiring fulfillment before transit to the next higher one can be made. Herzberg's emphasis spotlights the task itself instead of the conditions that surround it; job enrichment, an attempt to make work challenging, exciting and stimulating, is an outgrowth of this intrinsic focus on task.15 Teachers can enrich the learning experience by assigning appealing and challenging repertoire which will attract attention and effort. Only when the hygiene factors are met, however, can the seeds of esteem and self-actualization have a chance to germinate and blossom. Herzberg's theory explains the dilemma that arises when excellent working conditions fail to lead to enhanced motivation. By concentrating only on easily resolvable hygiene factors, teachers will never instill lasting incentive. Again, the "Inner Game" is the best one around, but the players have to be carefully prepared and freed from distraction before they can play.



Victor Vroom has taken the theory of needs to its most complex and sophisticated level yet. He differs from Maslow and Herzberg principally by stressing individual differences in motivation.16 Vroom suggests that a person's motivation is a function of several factors, including valence, or the strength of desire for a particular outcome, and expectancy, which refers to the individual's perception that a particular action will result in the desired outcome. Vroom also pointed out that in many cases people are motivated not by the primary, obvious goal, but by a secondary one which will be a by-product of the first. For instance, a first-level goal might be superior performance, but the real operational incentive may well be the winning of a scholarship awarded for the best performance.17 Vroom's work, called Expectancy Theory, has led to the formulation of the Path-Goal Theory by Robert J. House. House took Vroom's findings and put them into action. He pointed out that motivation depends on the combined strengths of expectations that behavior will result in a specific outcome and the desirability of those outcomes at a first or second level. House bases his model on this premise and suggests that an optimal management/pedagogical strategy would be to determine as completely as possible what goals are important to each individual employee/student and then make clear the contingent relationship between effort and goal realization.18 Point out often that increased practice can lead to more polished performance, better grades, university admission, contest success, advanced repertoire or any other goal that excites each individual student. Be sensitive to the fact that immediate goals may not be the true motivators; for example, the winning of a scholarship may simply be the means of attending college. In such cases, clearly and frequently equate increased practice with college attendance. The path to the desired goal must be made straight and appealing.



In addition to the Path-Goal theory, other leadership models have been advanced. The first theory, originating with the ancient Greeks and Romans, is the Trait Approach, or "Great Man Theory." This view holds that a person must be born with the requisite traits for leadership, and those traits which lead to successful leadership can be identified through a study of the personalities of great leaders. Voluminous research conducted from 1930 to 1950, however, dispelled this notion. Leadership qualities were found to be too diverse to allow for any abstraction of universal traits. Only intelligence proved to appear with any degree of consistency.19



Other researchers began to turn their attention to the basic assumptions underlying leadership styles. Douglas McGregor in 1960 described two basic leadership approaches. He termed the prevailing Scientific Management school "Theory X." Theory X leaders believe that the average person is basically lazy and irresponsible and must be controlled, punished and forced to work. Such assumptions result in an autocratic management/pedagogical style. McGregor claimed that the findings of Maslow and the other motivational theorists disputed Theory X; basic needs and goals are universally held, and a lack of initiative reflects a frustrated or improperly channeled effort instead of inherent indolence. "Theory Y" seemed to McGregor an altogether more proper approach based on the research. Theory Y holds that: 1) people are naturally industrious; 2) self-control can effectively replace punishment and coercion in directing effort; 3) true motivation results from the pursuits of such basic needs as esteem, achievement, and self-actualization; 4) people seek responsibility; and 5) most people are imaginative and creative under the proper circumstances.20

These basic assumptions were a radical departure from traditional management thought and practice. Frederick Herzberg claims that Theory X is equivalent to what he terms KITA, euphemistically translated as a "kick in the pants." Herzberg describes both positive and negative KITA.21 Negative KITA, or punishment and coercion, is easily understood and all too prevalent. Positive KITA, though, is much more insidious and pernicious. It occurs when a manager or teacher promises a reward upon the completion of a task; the employee or student is pulled to performance, but motivation—that internally directed desire to accomplish a goal in search of a basic need—is not generated. The exertion of effort will prove to be short-lived and terminal. Herzberg condemns both varieties of KITA, particularly positive KITA, by saying that "negative KITA is rape, and positive KITA is seduction. But it is infinitely worse to be seduced than to be raped; the latter is an unfortunate occurrence, while the former signifies that you were a party to your own downfall. The organization does not have to kick you; you kick yourself."22 Herzberg goes on to reiterate that true motivation can occur only when an individual longs for higher level needs. The point again is stressed that dissatisfaction, not satisfaction, serves as the focus of motivation; enduring motivation results from a search for intrinsic rewards rather than external prizes. Theory Y asserts that everyone has the capability to conduct this search. Music teachers would do well to remember this lesson, especially in the face of frustration that so often leads to denigrating assumptions about students. No one wants to fail, but how difficult sometimes that truth is to remember. When confronted with an unmotivated student, teachers ought to respond with an appropriate positive strategy, not with hostility. They must regard any lack of student incentive as a problem to be solved through clever tactics which genuinely motivate and stimulate. Above all, pedagogical demagoguery and arrogance must be put to rest for good. Long ago, John Dewey, in a classic essay, Interest and Effort in Education, warned that coercion is pedagogically ineffective.



Closely paralleling the dualism of Theory X and Theory Y, the findings of a study conducted by the University of Michigan in the late 1940s identified two basic leadership styles that are opposite poles of a continuum. The two dimensions of leadership behavior that were found to be the most characteristically significant were job-centered and employee-centered orientations. The job-centered manager or teacher is concerned primarily with the task to be accomplished and with marshaling subordinates to perform as efficiently as possible. The employee-centered manager/teacher leads by ingratiation and friendship. The Michigan studies assumed these two dimensions were mutually exclusive; a leader could pursue one of the strategies, but not both. The employee-centered approach was found to work best.23 Similar investigations conducted about the same time at Ohio State University were based on the same two leadership categories, but now were called initiating structure and consideration. The most significant conclusion of this study was that the two leadership dimensions are independent of one another; a leader can manifest both initiating structure (job-centered) and consideration (employee-centered) simultaneously. In truth, a leader can be multi-faceted instead of unidimensional.24 The door was now thrust open for other researchers to formulate leadership models predicated upon this most important finding.



The Managerial Grid, developed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton in the early 1960s, was proposed as a gestalt model employing the twin leadership dimensions of task and consideration orientations.25 The Grid is illustrated graphically, with the horizontal axis representing a leader's proclivity toward a task-related emphasis and the vertical axis representing concern for people. Each axis is scaled from 1 to 9, with 1 indicating minimal concern for either task or people and 9 a maximum degree of concern for people or task. Five basic leadership styles are located at each corner of the Grid and in the middle. The five types of leadership behavior are: 1) Task management (9,1)—leadership that emphasizes the work ethic to the total exclusion of humanistic concern; 2) Country-club management (1,9)—leadership that stands in exact opposition to task management, focusing instead on promoting satisfaction and contentment; 3) Impoverished management (1,1)—leadership that has reached a de facto state of abdication of any focus whatsoever; 4) Middle-of-the-Road management (5,5)—leadership that combines both task- and concern-orientations, but only in a tentative coexistence that compromises effectiveness; and 5) Team management (9,9)—leadership that unites both dimensions in a strong alliance, resulting in high standards, enhanced interpersonal relationships, mutual respect, participative goal-setting, and creativity.26

Blake and Mouton enthusiastically recommend the team management approach. Their extensive research has demonstrated that application of team management techniques has led to greatly improved productivity per employee.27 In fact, this model has proven so effective that nine of the world's ten largest corporations have adopted it.

Team management teaching concepts can be learned via formal university pedagogy classes, in workshops, and independently by individuals willing to conduct an honest self-appraisal, to investigate the basic tenets of this approach, and to commit to a fundamental change in pedagogical style.28 The self-appraisal component of this prescription for change is probably the most difficult to effect; out of the total population of subjects who have completed a style-orientation questionnaire, nearly 70 percent of the respondents have initially identified themselves as team management players. Upon further reflection and study, however, less than 25 percent believed that they truly possessed a high degree of both task- and concern-orientations.29 The message is clear: self-deception is a short road to stagnation.

The research evidence clearly suggests that the most effective pedagogical approach ought to be both demanding and encouraging. The exclusion of one vis-à-vis the other fails to elicit maximum potential from students. The marriage of high standards and genuine compassion results in pedagogical excellence. The challenge is great, but so are the rewards.



In additional research on the applicability of the basic leadership options, Fred Fiedler developed a Contingency Model which allows for the imposition of greater or lesser amounts of either a "lenient" or "hard-nosed" style depending on the situation. Fiedler argues that leadership must be flexible and responsive to each individual and each different setting.30 Hersey and Blanchard in 1927 further enunciated the need for leadership pliability in a model called the Life Cycle Theory. They asserted that the mix of task- and consideration-centered behavior should also be a function of employee/student maturity. As psychological maturity increases, less task-oriented leadership is required. Consideration-centered leadership should be kept to a minimum for immature students, reach its peak with average maturity, and then decline again with the advent of responsible maturity. This view certainly proves to be consistent with the need theories of Maslow and others. As a student begins to exhibit higher level aspirations and accomplishments, less active leadership of either variety will be required. In the early stages, however, task-directed leadership will motivate best, but this should gradually give way to an increasing consideration-orientation, to be replaced ultimately by an almost laissez-faire pedagogical approach.31 The take-home message of the contingency theorists should be that pedagogical methodologies ought to be tailored to each individual student, and continuous reappraisal will allow teachers to constantly adjust their motivational tactics in response to the evolving situation and maturity level of each student.



In recognition that every student and situation are different, no single set of performance goals or accomplishment criteria can be applied to everyone. Goals must be freshly established for every student each semester. A tactical framework for doing just that was created by Peter Drucker in 1954.32 Drucker called his idea Management by Objectives (MBO) and claimed that it offered a profoundly different motivational strategy:

It rests on a concept of human action, human behavior and human motivation. Finally, it applies to every manager whatever his level and function, and to any business enterprise whether large or small. It insures performance by converting objective needs into personal goals.33

MBO is in agreement with Herzberg in a thorough denunciation of KITA, whether positive or negative. MBO seeks to address its appeal to intrinsic needs and goals and thereby finds itself aligned with the findings of all the need theorists. MBO has proven so successful that most organizations throughout the world now employ some form of it.34

The implementation of MBO requires three stages. First, specific goals and objectives must be set for each student over a discrete time period. Second, student commitment to the goals must be won, and third, goal accomplishment must be reviewed at the end of the period. The entire process is facilitated if the following guidelines are followed:35

1) Goals and objectives ought to be clear and concise. For instance, a course syllabus can be very useful even in private applied study. Deadlines can be formulated at the beginning of every term that establish specific dates for having each piece playable at a certain tempo, other dates for the memorization of each piece, performance schedules, and tempo markings for technical studies.

2) Goals and objectives ought to be challenging. They should cause the student to work hard, but they must never be so demanding as to be unattainable. There is an art to walking this tightrope, and again the issue of "lenient" versus "hard-nosed" surfaces. Teachers have to balance these two factors differently for every student. The issue of compromise also arises. Should the goal demands be reduced during the semester? In most cases, the answer should be a firmly resounding "no," unless mitigating circumstances such as illness have intervened or unless the teacher becomes convinced that the original goals were overly ambitious. In other situations, a pedagogical retreat from pre-established goals will probably be interpreted as an insipid softness to be exploited. Word of such an easy mark travels fast, and the teacher has a tremendously difficult time enforcing high standards in the future. Lax or compromised goals do the student no favor; instead, they reflect a pedagogical weakness and insecurity that do much harm. As the wisdom of the Managerial Grid counsels, lofty standards and congenial support can happily coexist to the mutual benefit of all.

3) Goals and objectives ought to be formulated jointly by the teacher and student. Such participative involvement is the surest path to student commitment. Also, repertoire and assignments which are attractive to the student should be sought in an unabashed appeal to the affective domain.

4) Frequent appraisal and support throughout the semester are essential. The student and teacher should continually evaluate goal attainment each step of the way. If the student's performance is falling below the prescribed standard, he will have an opportunity to mend his ways if he is given notice. Teachers sometimes feel that once course requirements are spelled out, they can withdraw from active encouragement. Such a plan is unwise and begs for trouble. For the student who is succeeding in meeting every goal and deadline, positive reinforcement will help to maintain a high motivational level.

5) The final appraisal must be objective, rigorous and unbiased. First, students want and deserve honest feedback. A negative evaluation is often the most difficult task facing a teacher. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news. When such a chore is necessary, however, discuss the student's poor performance and not his personality. Deal only with the failed task and avoid any temptation to degradate the student's character. A rule to follow is "despise the sin but not the sinner."36 Second, do not skim over either success or failure. Notice and praise accomplishment; talk about failure, convincing the student to try harder by following specific recommendations, or, in severe cases, to terminate his lessons. Finally, judge all students fairly and equally. J. Stacy Adams has found that inequity can prove to be a powerful motivational inhibitor. Playing favorites is a dangerous game. Rewards and preferential treatment must be based on accomplishment and must be attainable by all. A perception of inequity resulting either from reward deprivation or indiscriminate mass reward saturation such as grade inflation will likely result in reduced effort.37


* * * * * *

MBO provides a comprehensive model of leadership and pedagogical strategy that incorporates much of the research findings of other motivation theories. It provides a wealth of practical advice and tactics that are immediately applicable to every student. It relies heavily on participative decision making, high standards, and intrinsic motivation, all supported by open two-way communication. Such communication, however, is not always easily accomplished. In fact, failed communication can sabotage the wisest and most carefully-considered strategy.38



A communications paradigm that has enjoyed widespread popularity in the business community is Transactional Anaylsis (TA), developed by Eric Berne in 1964 (Games People Play) and further popularized in 1969 by Thomas Harris (I'm OK—You're OK). TA is premised upon a theory of behavior, a method of psychotherapy and an approach leading to a more complete understanding of self and enhanced interpersonal communications. TA explicates the nature of interactional games while advancing strategies for improving incongruent communication; it also addresses not only the choice of words but such other transactional elements as vocal inflection and body language.39

TA describes three behavioral elements that are present in every person: the Parent, the Adult and the Child (P-A-C). These terms parallel the psychoanalytic terms of superego, ego and id. The Parent (superego) is a behavior set that is formed by about the age of five. The Parent is the authoritarian self that stands ready to replay all the norms and rules that have been programmed into each individual. The Child (id) is the emotional, spontaneous side of personality. Any display of feelings betrays the Child. The Adult (ego) synthesizes and analyzes data in a continuous fashion; it is unfettered by preconceived notion or illogic. The Adult is the optimal psychic state. Harris says that the ultimate goal of TA "is the strengthening and emancipation of the Adult from the archaic recordings in Parent and Child to make possible freedom of choice and the creation of new options."40 The Adult self resembles the "Inner Game" player and the self-actualized person. The Adult represents the individual who has hurdled the lower level needs and is striving toward mature goals. Obviously, all teachers and students should covet an Adult posture. Reality, however, suggests that people retain traits of all three selves, each ready to surface. TA offers a method of dealing with each of the psychic states in the most efficacious manner possible.

Whenever communication takes place, each of the participants will allow either the Parent, Child or Adult to predominate. For instance, a boss or teacher will frequently play the Parent role and the employee or student will assume the Child status. In the case of young students, the Child stance is usually the only available response. As people begin to explore their independence during adolescence, a Parent role will likely emerge. The advent of psychological maturity facilitates an Adult posture. Throughout developmental stages in students, teachers should seek always to maintain an Adult pedagogical frame of reference. Authoritarian rules and regulations are not the answer (Parent position), and neither is hostility (Child behavior). Nonjudgmental but honest appraisal proves to be the best course of action in interpersonal transactions. When students finally reach the threshold of Adult capabilities, they will then have in the behavior of their teachers an excellent role model to emulate, a model that is free of pettiness and predetermined biases.41

In dealing with Adult students, especially college students who have reached higher-order motivational levels, teachers must guard against smug reactions which reflect the Parent. For so many musicians, the pedagogical example of the past has been the Parent who demanded Child behavior, even from Adult students. When these students become teachers, they assume the Parent role that seems to them to be the natural pedagogical position. The mold is set; the cycle repeats itself without conscious thought. Manifestations of this behavior include curtness and rudeness, condescension via an insistence on being formally addressed by title and surname while calling the older student by first name, refusal to allow students a participative role in decision-making and goal-setting, etc. The effect of a pedagogical Parent can be devastating to the creative advancement of the student; however, the Parent enjoys playing the power game so much that to relinquish it is to admit insecurity. Self-analysis, however, is one of the prime requisites of TA. Teachers must be ever vigilant to maximize their effectiveness in all ways, and recognition of Parent traits in one's own relations vis-à-vis students is the first step toward improvement. The objectivity of the Adult must come to serve as the basic pedagogical model for music teachers, difficult though that might be in a profession that has for so long been stereotyped by its prima donnas and artistic temperament. Harris, however, has succinctly outlined the value of positive TA:

When the Parent or the Child dominates, the outcome is predictable. This is one of the essential characteristics of games. There is a certain security in games. They may always turn out painfully but it is a pain that the player has learned to handle. When the Adult is in charge of the transaction, the outcome is not always predictable. There is the possibility of failure, but there is also the possibility of success. Most important, there is the possibility of change.42

Creative and artistic growth demands change and upward evolutionary mobility. Positive TA can lead to change, as can behavior modification.



Behavior modification is based primarily on the writings of B.F. Skinner, which are predicated upon Edward Thorndike's Law of Effect:

Of several responses made to the same situation, those which are accompanied or closely followed by satisfaction [reinforcement] . . . will be more likely to recur; these which are accompanied or closely followed by discomfort [negative reinforcement or punishment] . . . will be less likely to occur.43

Behavior modification, also known as operant learning, is an extremely useful motivational technique that relies heavily on the communication process. It demands full and close involvement on the part of the manager or teacher in a masterful effort to obtain desired responses from employees and students. The key to making this model work is the dispensation of rewards and punishments.44

Pedagogical options in behavior modification include both positive and negative reinforcers. A positive reinforcer serves to strengthen the association between a stimulus and response. Both extrinsic and intrinsic reinforcers can strengthen the association, but intrinsic rewards are more potent.45 The intrinsic concepts relate closely to the higher order needs espoused by Maslow, while the extrinsic motivators are akin to the idea of KITA deplored by Herzberg. Bass and Vaughan present the following four methods to enhance the intrinsic value of learning: 1) emphasize the future utility of the activity; 2) provide continuous feedback; 3) relate the activity to interesting material already learned; and 4) maintain suspense by withholding conclusions until the end of the learning sequence.46

Four more specific and subtle pedagogical strategies that operate to magnify intrinsic learning reinforcers are suggested by Luthans: 1) Attention—reinforcement is derived from any attention (a look or response) that might be bestowed on a student; 2) Approval—a verbal or visual stimulus, even in the form of a smile or nod, will reinforce behavior; 3) Affection—a teacher who demonstrates affection for students based on effort and motivation will stimulate the student's desire to please the teacher; and 4) Tokens—physical rewards such as extra lessons, good grades, gold stars, etc., can serve as powerful reinforcers if they are distributed in response to desired behavior.47

Each of these positive reinforcers has a negative counterpart. Withholding any of the four reward areas can dissuade undesirable behavior. Research has demonstrated, however, that negative reinforcers, particularly in the form of noxious punishment, are not nearly as effective in modifying behavior as are positive reinforcers.48 The timing of the administration of the reinforcer will have a significant effect on its impact. First, the reinforcer ought to follow the considered outcome as quickly as possible. A clear connection between the two is essential for maximum benefit. Second, rewards should not be forthcoming every time a desired behavior occurs; otherwise, a dilution of reward potency will ensue. Numerous studies have shown that rewards which are administered on a variable interval schedule, or loosely randomized fashion, will produce the strongest commitment to change.49 Patting a student on the head every time he does well is surely a temptation for many teachers; an understanding of the tenets of behavior modification, though, suggests that such pedagogical luxury and benevolence do not make use of the most effective motivational strategy, and neither does disinterested aloofness or hostility. Desired behavior can be magnified and undesired behavior thwarted by a prudent application of rewards and discouragements that are tailored to the needs and goals of each individual person.



As important as motivational leadership certainly is, any performance equation must contain at least two additional factors; ability and confidence level. Basic ability quotients will vary from person to person, and success, while dependent upon motivation, will be swayed by the rule of nature and prior nurture.50 Teachers obviously must not objectively equate attainment only with motivational involvement. High zeal coupled with moderate ability may be eclipsed by moderate effort and bountiful ability. Performance appraisal ought to be sensitive to a number of functions in order to be alert and responsive to the peculiar circumstances of every student. In addition to motivation and ability, the degree of competence that a student feels can be powerfully influential. Robert W. White has pioneered research in the area of the Competence Motive. He suggests that everyone wants to control his environment. The preponderance of success or failure over the years will instill in each person a corresponding pervasive sense of assertive achievement or of frustrated insecurity. White believes that the Competence Motive, or feeling of confidence, is developed between the ages of six and nine but that even adults can alter their competence levels by assertive thinking and a series of positive experiences.51 Such a theory gives birth to two pedagogical strategies. First, teachers of children between six and nine years old must make every effort to insure that music study is a positive, pleasurable experience that leads to consistently replicated success. Substantial psychological reward and challenging but attainable goals are appropriate tactics. In the case of insecure older students, a teacher who recognizes a depressed level of competence can employ the same strategies. In both situations, any public performances must be so orchestrated that the probability of success is high. The teacher should keep this advice in mind when assigning recital repertoire, in scheduling appearances, and in thorough performance preparation. Students who exhibit a low competence level require only moderate goals until confidence has been firmly ingrained.



The discipline of business administration, particularly in the area of management, has long concerned itself with the development of various strategies to motivate people to perform at their maximum level of ability. Extensive research over many years has yielded an impressive body of literature concerning motivational techniques and leadership styles. The wisdom that has so painstakingly evolved can be applied to music pedagogy with equally effective results.

No one single theory or model will satisfy every motivational need or situation. To enhance pedagogical abilities, every music teacher ought to develop a mastery of as many of the strategies and tactics as possible. Experience and common sense alone will not always solve the problem. The evidence supporting a scientific approach to motivation is persuasive, and certainly ought to be considered as essential in music teacher preparation.

Above all, teachers must be flexible and willing to provide the indicated response, even when the required response is not personally easy to administer. The teacher must stay one step ahead of the student in rendering a benevolent manipulation which will serve the student's need fulfillment. The quest for pedagogical excellence can inch ever closer to the Holy Grail if teachers will but adopt a body of knowledge that begs for application. Motivation theory awaits; seek and ye shall find.

1Timothy W. Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis (New York: Random House, 1974).

2David C. McClelland, "That Urge to Achieve," Classics of Organizational Behavior, ed. by Walter E. Natemeyer (Oak Park, Illinois: Moore Publishing Company, 1978), p. 88.

3Fred Luthans, Organizational Behavior: A Modern Behavioral Approach To Management (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1973), pp. 401-402.

4McClelland, p. 91.

5Luthans, pp. 403-404.

6Ibid., pp. 389-390.

7Robin Stuart-Kotze, Introduction to Organizational Behavior: A Situational Approach (Reston, Virginia: Reston Publishing Company, Inc., 1980), p. 84.

8Andrew J. DuBrin, Fundamentals of Organizational Behavior (New York: Pergamon Press, 1978), p. 40.

9Abraham Maslow, "A Theory of Human Motivation," Psychological Review 50 (July 1943), 370-396.

10Stuart-Kotze, p. 85.

11Luthans, pp. 484-485.

12Stuart-Kotze, p. 87.

13Abraham Maslow, "Music Education and Peak Experience," Music Educators Journal 54 (February 1968), 164.

14Luthans, pp. 487-488.

15DuBrin, pp. 53-55.

16Luthans, p. 491.

17Luthans, pp. 490-491.

18DuBrin, pp. 246-248.

19Luthans, p. 499.

20Stuart-Kotze, pp. 181-182.

21Frederick Herzberg, "One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?" Classics of Organizational Behavior, ed. by Walter E. Natemeyer (Oak Park, Illinois: Moore Publishing Company, 1978), pp. 95-106.

22Ibid., p. 96.

23Stuart-Kotze, pp. 182-183.

24Ibid., p. 184.

25DuBrin, p. 241.

26Ibid., pp. 241-242.

27Robert R. Blake, Jane S. Mouton, Louis B. Barnes and Larry E. Greiner, "Breakthrough in Organization Development;" Harvard Business Review 42 (November-December 1964), 142-143.

28Robert R. Blake, Jane Srygley Mouton and Martha Shipe Williams, The Academic Administrator Grid (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1981), p. 283.

29Ibid., pp. 279-280.

30Luthans, pp. 500-504.

31DuBrin, pp. 243-245.

32Peter F. Drucker, The Practice of Management (New York: Harper & Row, 1954).

33Ibid., p. 136.

34Luthans, p. 519.

35DuBrin, pp. 284-288.

36Haim Ginott, Teacher and Child (New York: Macmillan, 1972), pp. 150-151.

37J. Stacy Adams, "Toward an Understanding of Inequity," Journal of Abnormal Psychology 67, No. 5 (1963), 422-436.

38DuBrin, pp. 307-308.

39Ibid., p. 331.

40Ibid., p. 332.

41Stuart-Kotze, pp. 224-226.

42Ibid., p. 226.

43Luthans, p. 373.

44Stuart-Kotze, p. 229.

45Luthans, pp. 375-376.

46Bernard M. Bass and James A. Vaughan, Training in Industry: The Management of Learning (Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1966), p. 58.

47Luthans, pp. 376-377.

48Ibid., p. 381.

49Stuart-Kotze, pp. 232-233.

50Ibid., p. 99.

51Ibid., p. 91.

8912 Last modified on October 24, 2018