What’s one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in a private music studio?
In a word, practice. I find that most of the time, students have a hard time getting their practicing accomplished. Oh, they love to play, but practice? No way! I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only teacher that experiences this struggle. And to be completely honest, I remember not wanting to practice when I was in school, either. But you love your students, they have oodles of talent, and if they actually practiced, well, they probably would be amazing. But in this world we live in, in my opinion, students are highly overscheduled. Between sports meets, play practice, church events, band camp, and more, there is little time and energy left for them to spend any amount of time with their instrument. So I am constantly looking for ways to motivate, inspire, and teach them how to practice. Here are a few recent ideas that I have come across.
Contests. Some students thrive on contests and competitions. The trick is finding a contest that all your students can participate in, no matter what their level. Right now, I am running a five week contest called “Piano Olympics.” I know there are other teachers capitalizing on Olympic Fever, but here’s my take. Each week the student can earn one point for attending their training session (a.k.a. piano lesson), one point for accomplishing their personal training goals (ah – practicing according to the agreed upon expectations), one point for their five finger challenge (learning the scale for the week), one point for memorizing a piece of music (it could be anything we have ever worked on), and one point for completing their bonus challenge (a worksheet or game that we do during the lesson). Each week they can earn a total of five points. Twenty points or more nets them a gold medal, fifteen to nineteen scores a silver medal, and less than that is honorable mention, because I want everyone to be recognized for something. The medals are actually little plastic medals from Target and you can put anything you want on the inside. Last year, I did a contest called, “Let’s Talk Turkey” which was similar in structure, but focused on Thanksgiving. Students that are contest driven will do the work just to get their points. I like to keep it simple and of course, fun. [···]