Monday Mailbag – Special Student Awards

I love your Music Matters Blog. So inspirational!! But I have a question regarding your practice incentives. How can a teacher pull out all the bells and whistles to make this what I’d want it to be when I teach in my home – in the living room to be exact? I’d love to have something memorable for the students that would really get them motivated.

I just had a piano recital on Mother’s Day. It was such a “just perfect” day. I was a little fearful when I suggested this date. No one even blinked an eye and in fact, it turned out to be a blessing as so many grand parents were able to come and hear their own grandchild along with others.

I wanted to reward my students for their exceptional hard work, and ordered the nicest medals on a ribbon from www.crownawards.com. The ribbons had 2010 embroidered on them and the oval shaped medal with piano was a very nice gift without a lot of expense. Maybe next year I’ll do trophies for the high school students and make a difference there. Never know!! lol


I’m enclosing a picture of the students with the medals in case another teacher would be interested in doing something similar. The service from Crown Awards was phenomenal – I was asked how soon I needed them, gave a date, and had it before!

This is a question that is at the top of the mind of quite a few teachers! I admit that my practice incentive themes are pretty involved, but that’s because I use them as my framework for the whole year. It’s not an add-on to the lessons; it’s the way that I do my lesson planning and provide structure and goals for my students to work toward throughout the year. In addition, part of my goal in designing fun practice incentive themes is to build a culture of enthusiasm and discipline in my studio. The themes are designed so that you can take them and use them as-is or pull just the ideas that will work for your studio and then build your own program around them. I know lots of teachers love having a complete package that they can implement with their students, but plenty of others use the basic theme to stimulate their own creative adaptations.

However, a critical aspect of coming up with something memorable for your students – whether it be big or small – is to tap into things that already excite them. Do they love recording themselves playing? Perhaps you could give them a repertoire list and once they’ve learned a certain number of pieces, they can select one to record. Do they enjoy playing games? Maybe you could distribute game tokens for completed assignments and then have different games requiring different amounts of tokens that they can elect to play as part of their lesson time. Do they like to play by ear? You might try having a month-long challenge to see how many songs they can figure out by ear and then play for you at their lesson. And so on!

These are smaller, more manageable types of motivational strategies that will keep students engaged and make their lessons memorable. One of the things that I try to do is implement new ideas almost every week. I want to keep my students guessing as to what crazy idea I’m going to come up with next! 🙂 If anyone else has suggestions for motivational ideas to use with students, please do share!

(BTW, thanks for the wonderful photos and idea, Marjorie!)

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

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