I try my best to motivate my students by choosing music that they really enjoy, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Today I’m going to show you some of the ways I encourage students to work on their music at home in between lessons.
Every student under age 10 gets a sticker chart. I try to have a variety to choose from. For each piece they play well for me, sightread well for me, or for each piano activity/worksheet they do, they earn a sticker. The chart holds 20 stickers, and then they can choose a prize from my prize drawer.
Sometimes, if a student only earns 1 or two stickers in a lesson, I’ll point it out, and show them how many more stickers they could get if they worked a little harder at home, or focused better during their lesson.
Below you can see some of the charts my students have completed, and a few of the prizes they can choose from the prize drawer.
Each fall and spring, I have a studio practice or performance challenge. These challenges usually run for two months, and are very visual so the students can see how they compare to other students.
With this challenge, students made a flower with 5 petals. They earned a petal every time they finished learning a piece. Once they had 5 petals, we hung their flowers on the doors near the piano, and the student got an entry into a drawing for a gift card at the spring recital.
Last fall, I had a string across those doors with the students’ names hanging from it. Each time they played a piece for me without any help, they got a bead. At a certain number of beads, they got some candy (5 beads for 4-5 year olds, 10 beds for 6 and up). The students enjoyed picking out the different colored beads and counting how many beads the other students had. It became a little race to see who had played the most songs.
Bribery or Motivation?
Honestly, probably a little of both. But you know what? The students have fun, and they come away with a visual representation of what they learn. And they learn way more with a little extra motivation.
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