Monday, March 21, 2011

Needing a Bit of a "Nudge"

I don't know if I'm the only one experiencing this, but I have recently had several students who are having problems practicing!  By that I mean...they don't want to!  I attribute a lot of it to the time of year - It's been a VERY long winter and they are ready for spring, as am I! - but also know that it's making a frustrating time for parents and their home life.  Soooo..., at this weeks group lesson I am working on an additional incentive program to try and add a bit more fun and a bit of "motivation" to practice. 

I am considering starting a grid type chart for each student.  For each week or for each day they practice well and don't give their parents a hard time about it (obviously parents will have to sign off on this!), they earn a sticker in the chart.  The program would last until June (about 8-9 weeks) and those who managed to get a predetermined amount of stars would earn a special "Practice trophy" at the June recital.  I also thought about adding a bit of see who can put in the most practice days between now and June. 

Before I finalize it, I wanted to ask all of you if you are having the same problem and if you have any suggestions for ways to add a bit of "enthusiasm" at this time of year. Would this idea appeal to your student?  Would you do it another way?   I would appreciate any ideas you have or things you have used that worked well. 


Anne Crosby Gaudet said...

It's interesting to notice the ups and downs that happen every year. I find November is "one of those months". I try to plan lots of interesting projects this time of year to keep my students engaged and working hard.

Good luck with the practice trophy! I've done this sort of thing with a draw, so kids don't give up if they get behind. Each week if they have good practicing their name goes in the jar to draw for a prize. The more good weeks they have the more chances to win! Just a thought :)

Heidi said...

I've used some of the motivational charts (spot/olympics/indy 500)from Wendy's Piano Studio (Compose Create)in the past and most of my students improved in their practice habits. I like how Wendy established the BIG goal at the end with a few little reinforcements along the way.

Sheryl said...

Thank you Anne and Heidi for your comments. I have planned to have "milestones" incorporated so they don't have to wait until the end for their reward. I really like the idea of a draw, Anne. Thank you for the suggestion! Heidi, I'll check out Wendy's motivational charts. Thank you for the idea!

Tifany said...

For my students, I've found that by agreeing on a certain amount of days needed to practice between lessons helps. Along with that, I provide fun stickers for them to put on their lesson notebook page for everyday they practice. If they have the agreed upon number of stickers (days practiced) when they return for the next lesson, they get to choose an item out of the "Treasure Box". This box is just little stuff from the dollar store or even the fun size candy bars. I also keep up on the holidays to put special items in to celebrate as well. I've found that learning what the students' likes are (dinosaurs, airplanes, hearts, animals, characters, sports) and supplying those kind of stickers is a HUGE motivation for them as well. If the students are in the tween age, they don't care about the stickers, but the items in the treasure box still hold interest for them. Especially when I occasionally ask them specifically what kind of things they would like to see in the treasure box:)

I also have learned to back off of the "lesson books" a bit more and allow them to play a "fun" song. They then have the opportunity to earn "A Super Star" certificate & small prize upon learning the song to "recital readiness". The fun songs are not too difficult, just enough to motivate them and teach them a little something they don't already know.

Sheryl said...

Thank you, Tifany! There are a lot of wonderful ideas in your comments! I appreciate the time you took to share it with me!