One of the most exciting aspects of teaching music is the almost limitless opportunity it provides for creativity in implementing and reinforcing concepts. Each of the products available through the Music Matters Blog Store has been custom-designed and used with great success with students of all ages. Many teachers around the world are experiencing the same results as they implement the practice incentives, piano camps, and games in their own studios. Because I believe strongly in the freedom of every teacher to develop and implement creative teaching approaches that will serve the needs of their individual studios, any teacher is welcome to adapt the available materials as necessary to serve that purpose. As you can see from the Testimonials page many teachers use these practice incentive themes and ideas as a springboard to develop new ideas to use with their students. You are welcome to do this, and I greatly appreciate those who give credit to the source of their ideas and provide links back to this site!

Practice Incentive Theme Packages

  One of the most effective ideas I ever implemented in my studio was designing a year-long practice incentive program and then building everything in the studio around that theme for the year. Once the program is set in motion, lesson planning for the year is a breeze because we already have a framework to work within as students select goals and work toward mastering specific level-appropriate skills. You can find out more about how I develop these incentives by reading my blog post: 4 Components of a Good Practice Incentive. Each of the following practice incentive programs is a downloadable zip file that contains all the documents, files, pictures, and information you need to implement the program successfully in your studio. My hope is that teachers and students alike will find these practice incentive programs a helpful tool for developing enthusiasm and excellence in their music lessons!  

Climbing the Ladder to Success

Up, up, and away! In this fun practice incentive, students hone their sight-reading skills as they tackle piece after piece to advance to the next rung of the ladder. Students are given a 4-step outline for learning each piece and must demonstrate excellence in order to move on. Along the way there are numerous opportunities to earn Diligence Dollars, which can be accumulated all year long and turned in for an incredible prize at the end of the year! (See this post for more information)


Let's Have a Ball!

A musical ball, that is! This exciting practice incentive is especially designed to promote camaraderie and help students become “well-rounded” musicians. Different aspects of the theme will have them developing brains, brawn, and beauty. Throughout the year students can earn rubber bouncy balls for completing various assignments and practicing consistently. Balls can then be traded in for entry slips into a drawing that is held at each of the themed musical balls throughout the year. You will be amazed at how much your students will learn to enjoy performing using this approach! (See this post for more information)


Go for the Gold!

The Olympic spirit of both team cooperation and competition is in full force with this energetic practice incentive! Students are assigned to a team color at the beginning of the year and have the opportunity to earn lots of points each week that contribute to their individual and team scores, all in the hopes of propelling their team toward the GOLD! Designed to focus specifically on three areas - written theory, sight-reading, and ear-playing - this format capitalizes on the strengths of each student while motivating them to work diligently to develop their weaknesses for short designated sessions. (See this post for more information)


Mastering the Mystery of Music

Calling all super sleuths to the scene! The suspense is high in this captivating practice incentive. Weekly mastery challenges selected by the student will be the key to cracking the code and unlocking the mystery. Categories like “staff scout,” “terminology trainer,” and “rhythm recon” will have students enthusiastically advancing in their musical studies, eager to receive the next clue and earn a listing in the official studio Agency Directory! (See this post for more information)


Exploring a Galaxy of Music

Blast off into an exciting year of lessons! This “out-of-this-world” practice incentive will have students eagerly striving toward new heights in their musical studies. Mission details are custom-designed by the teacher each week, with the student choosing his own “Stellar Student Selection” and “Cosmic Challenge” to accrue more points toward placing objects in his team's galaxy. Students take ownership for their progress by determining their own mission rating each week, and you'll find them jumping at any opportunity to earn extra points! (See this post for more information)


Quest for Capital!

Bring the entrepreneurial spirit alive in your students with this highly educational and creativity-driven practice incentive! Each week students have the opportunity to invest in the stocks of their choice - improvisation, sight-playing, performance, and listening. With stock prices fluctuating from week to week based on how much is invested, you'll have students plotting out new strategies so that they can earn more capital.

A list of Capital Improvement Projects will get the creative juices flowing, especially when students realize that they can make real money by selling their creative projects!

Package includes: Assignment book files, instructions for teachers, wall decor templates, pictures, and over 50 printable pages of supporting materials for all the stocks! (See this post for more information)


An Italian Intrigue

Explore the Italian countryside and cities in this travel-themed practice incentive! Students will become better acquainted with the geography of that land, see some of the world’s oldest architectural structures, learn a bit of history, and experience a taste of Italian culture. The students will move from location to location by correctly deciphering a set of photo clues to locate the mystery musician. Students who reach the correct destination get the added excitement of continuing their travels covertly - unless, of course, another student lands on them and flips them back over! :-)

In addition, they will learn to set longer range goals and establish a plan of action to achieve those goals one step at a time. Along the way, students will be earning Complication Coins for achieving their goals, participating in music events, practicing, and learning Italian terms - all with the objective of learning to play beautifully, naturally, and excellently. Complication Coins can be used at the end of the year to purchase a colorful souvenir t-shirt and sponsorship space on the shirts for their own special logo.

Package includes: Assignment book files, instructions for teachers, wall decor templates, pictures, and clues that will guide the students through their overseas adventure! (See this post for more information)


Project 28

Drawing on the understanding that music is a language, each week's assignments are organized to help the students become fluent. This means they will be focusing on hearing, speaking, reading, writing, thinking, and living music throughout the year.

At the beginning of the year, students will answer the question, "What do you want to be able to do by next May that you can't do now?" This will serve as their overarching goal for the year, and will be broken down into a mid-year goal, and 4-week (28 days!) goals that they are working toward to ultimately accomplish their goal for the year. Every 4 weeks, a Film Week gives students the opportunity to share (verbally and/or musically) what they have accomplished in working toward their goal. (See this post for more information.)




e.p.i.c. is a journey to become pianists with enthusiasm, perseverance, initiative, and creativity. Assignments may be given to the student each week based on their areas of interest and what skills they need to work on to continue to progress as well-rounded musicians. The goal of e.p.i.c. is to help students develop consistent practice habits, earning points each week for the days that they practice with Enthusiasm ("have a good attitude"), Perseverance ("work hard"), Initiative ("practice without being told"), and Creativity ("try something new").

Like all of the practice incentive themes, e.p.i.c. can be used with any age and level student, but is especially well-suited for younger students because it is easy to understand and implement. (See this post for more information.)

Package Includes: PDF and Word Doc versions of student assignment books, posters, wall decor, studio photos, images for student name cards, and teacher instructions.


C2: igniting the power within!

C2: igniting the power within is designed to help students develop competence and character. Competence is gained by focusing on three distinct areas each week: Technique and Theory, Rhythm and Reading, and Listening and Creating. The teacher may give any assignments she deems appropriate to the age and level of the student in these three areas, plus any others.

At each lesson students are rated on a scale of 1-5 for each assignment (a rubric is given at the beginning of the assignment book so that students can see what is required to receive each rating) based on how much they practiced and how successfully they demonstrate proficiency of the assignment given. They also receive a 1-5 rating for their attitude at the lesson. Once a student earns 60 points, they earn a "Power Card" which reveals the name of a specific kind of power in our society and gives them the possibility of earning additional points. At the end of the year, an Awards Ceremony recognizes each student for their growth in character and competence throughout the year.

Package Includes: PDF and Word Doc versions of student assignment books, posters, wall decor, studio photos, Power Cards, and teacher instructions.


Piano Camp Materials


Piano Camp Lesson Plans

This is the daily outline for a week-long piano camp, with lots of hyperlinks to correlating resources and websites. If you're interested in planning a fun, memorable Piano Camp for your own studio, this will give you the information and tools you need. The outline is succinct and easy-to-follow. It can be implemented “as-is” or adapted to incorporate your own ideas. Here are some blog post links to give you a glimpse into this fun week! Preliminary Planning | Glimpse One | Glimpse Two | Glimpse Three | Glimpse Four | Glimpse Five


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Pre-Piano Camp Program Package

A six-week outline of lesson plans designed for children ages 4-5. The format is designed for a one-hour class that is held once a week. The activities, games, and lessons are suitable for anywhere from 2-12 children per class. Each week's lesson plan includes a focus on: rhythm and pulse, keyboard skills, memory work and choir (including hymn history stories), written theory, and music appreciation (including listening to music and stories about the lives of the great composers). Each class is divided into 10-minute segments that will keep young children fully engaged and eager to continue their musical studies! Includes a FREE 31-page student workbook that correlates with the lesson plans and provides each student with a fun keepsake from their musical adventure! (See this post for more information)


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Kick-it-up-a-Notch! A one-week intensive piano course

Specifically designed for middle school and high school students who are willing to devote one week to focusing intensely on improving their skills. Two or more students meet for a daily 2-hour class and are expected to practice approximately 1-hour between each session. Each day includes time segments for: Finding Focus, Ensemble Improvisation on a Psalm, The Language of Music, Technique Concepts, Technique Training, Ensemble Repertoire, The Heartbeat of Music, Solo Repertoire, and Today's Take-Away. Includes: a 22-page lesson plan guide for teachers, a 134-page student workbook, and links to additional resources. (See this post for more information)


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For the Love of Music

For The Love of Music is a 5-day course to help pianists develop a love for skillfully reading music. Every lesson, reference page, worksheet, and activity is designed to help pianists learn how to translate musical sounds into printed notation and vice versa. Many people who pursue music have a God-given ability to play by ear or learn quickly by watching others play. However, these musicians often struggle to read music fluently. This course aims to capitalize on the strengths of these talented pianists and give them tools to become more proficient music readers. It can be used individually, with a group of friends, or by a teacher looking for ways to work more effectively with students who play by ear. It is our hope that each one who goes through this course will be inspired and equipped to love reading and experiencing new music! Includes: a 98-page workbook, 98-page answer key, 10 photos, 25 supporting videos, 56 audio clips for dictation, links to recommended resources, plus a BONUS: The Pianists' Book of Musical Scales and Keys is also included in this package (a $15 value)! (Click here to watch the For the Love of Music trailer.)




5 For Fun! Games and Activities for the Private Piano Lesson

Ever wish you could come up with a quick game off the top of your head to engage a student or help them better understand something? 5 For Fun! is a collection of easy (5-minute!) games and activities for the private piano lesson. From Keys on the Piano, to Notes on the Staff, to Intervals, to Chords, to Key Signatures, to Rhythm, plus an appendix with additional resources, you're sure to find just the perfect game to help introduce or reinforce music concepts to your students. Each page is laid out in a clean format, with a picture of the game, a list of supplies needed, step-by-step instructions for how it works, several ideas for variations, and a collection of links to related resources on the Internet. These are games and activities that have been favorites with my students over the years, so we hope that you love them, too! Package Includes: PDF eBook for on-screen viewing, paginated file for booklet printing, black and white paginated file, cover file, and instruction page.


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The Pianists' Book of Musical Scales and Keys

A simple, but highly-practical resource for pianists of all ages and levels. Complete with a handy key signature chart and staff and keyboard diagrams for all major, natural minor, and harmonic minor scales, you can either print off each key as needed or produce an entire booklet at once. Files include two size options - 8.5x11" and a smaller booklet size of 5.5x8.5". This makes a wonderful gift for students!


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Music Manuscript Book

Whether you want to give your students a special, but practical gift, or use a manuscript book for their regular written assignments, you can get lots of use out of this versatile and attractive manuscript book! Download once and then use it as often as you like to print books for your students. (You can e-mail the whole file to a print shop and have them run as many copies as you need and bind them. The book is set up with margin spacing to allow for double-sided printing.)


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Want to earn extra money referring people to these studio resources? Earn $4 per practice incentive and $2-$5 for each additional resource by becoming a PayLoadz Affiliate and putting the link on your site! View all available affiliate products from Natalie's Piano Studio.