During my brainstorming, the following themes came through: technique, ear/rhythm/sight-reading, and practice frequency. To be honest, those are the key themes every year, but these are areas I really want my students to shine in this year. So, I had to tweak the student challenges and incentives a bit.
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.
A few tweaks and new bells and whistles make this year's student incentive program and practice aids a rainbow of colours and very much, game inspired.
This school year, I revamped my incentive program for my piano students. We wrapped up the year with a fun party.
- Most of my students found it very hard to maintain a practise diary. Many couldn't be bothered with it. Some hated it.
- Quite a few students detested logging their minutes.
- My students got discouraged when they saw that they weren't earning as many Maestro Bucks (to spend at Maestro's Market) because they didn't maintain their practising diary or get their parents' signature and basically gave up on the program.
- The Top Dogs (Most Minutes Practised, Most Tasks Cleared, Most Maestro Bucks Earned) weren't necessarily practising efficiently.
I decided to focus on four main areas: technical proficiency, music mastery, leadership/initiative and efficiency/meeting goals. The first three are Top Dog categories, re-branded as: "Technique Savvy", "Music Mastery" and "Music Maestro".
The "assignment sheet" has been renamed "Learning Goals for the Week" to support the shift towards more goal-oriented practising habits versus practising for X minutes. The Practise Diary? Gone. The Practise Log? Also gone. Parent signature? Not required. All I ask of them is to check off which days they worked towards meeting their learning goals. They will earn $1 Maestro Buck for each goal cleared.
It may seem odd that I'm thinking about next year's student incentive program. It all started with me revamping the Lesson Assignment/Practice Diary Sheet to incorporate things that needed either clarification, simplification or simply more room. Might as well tackle it now while it's fresh on my mind. On the other hand, you could accuse me of procrastinating from practicing, however, it's not altogether true. I just get distracted with all the other things I have to do. All right, I could have worked on it AFTER practicing. Yes, even teachers employ the same pitiful excuses we get from our own students.
Enough webtime and back to that piano. There's nothing like wanting to do well on an exam to motivate one to go the extra mile. Must drill those trouble spots and work on transposing!
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