Throughout the years, I've tried several kinds of student incentive programs. The one that has been the most successful is Maestro's Top Dogs. This year, I modified my incentive program slightly to incorporate "musician survival skills". These are the areas that we as teachers and performing musicians know are necessary: aural skills, sight-reading, chording, transposition, improvising, technical skills, and practice frequency. They are also the areas that most students either gloss over or ignore.
We began the year with aural, note-reading, sight-reading, rhythm, and technical skills. Most of my students enjoyed the speed note-reading challenge using Music Tutor Sight Read and NoteWorks. Some students made it their goal to beat my score. None have, but a couple have come close.
All of my students learned all 24 major and minor pentascales by Halloween. Most are sight-reading two to three levels below their current playing level.
Now that we are in month three, the challenges are more personalized. I got the idea of personalizing the challenges from Michiko Yurko, creator of Music Mind Games.
For instance, a student who doesn't normally practise his or her technical exercises will find that they will earn $10 Maestro Bucks each day that they do. Another student, who isn't as strong with his note-reading (and happens to dislike the note-reading apps) now earns $10 (or is it $15) each time he prepares for the sight-reading challenge.
Is the new student incentive program working? It's working more than the Top Dogs program did on its own. Now, with the two programs combined, a hard working student can walk out of a lesson with over $342 Maestro Bucks, while a less inspired student can still earn approximately $15.
My students get to spend their Maestro Bucks at Maestro's Market. Speaking of which, I'm due for a shopping trip to stock up on their student incentives.
Now, the moment you have been waiting for: freebies! Here are free handouts of the sheets I created for Maestro's Top Dogs and the Musician Survival Skills Challenges.
- Maestro's Top Dogs & Musician Survival Skills Challenge Information Sheet
- Goal Setting Sheet & Brag Sheet
- Goals Met & Quick Study Sheet
- Gig Card & Music Moxie Sheet
- Survival Skill Challenge: Stage 1 (used in September)
- Survival Skill Challenge: Stage 2 (used in October)
- Survival Skill Challenge: Stage 3 (used from now until the end of the school year)
Teachers, if you would like a pdf of the Maestro Bucks to use for these student incentive programs, please contact me. I'd rather not tempt my students by making the document available online where they could find it.