With a new school year in full swing, fall is a great time to motivate students and build strong practice habits. Many students are new and are highly motivated and looking for guidance. Returning students might feel renewed to do better than last year, perhaps re-energized after a summer off.
Capitalize on this “new year” mentality! Here are some ideas for setting up incentives and goals for the first few month’s of your students school year:
- Communicate your practicing expectations to your students’ families. Don’t take it for granted that every family is going to understand the importance of daily practice! You may have families who are new to the whole concept of music lessons or came from a studio that had a different approach. Be clear about how important practice is and how often each student should be practicing. Send encouraging e-mails with reminders and tips and make it clear that parent involvement is important from the get-go.
- Schedule a recital. If your students are like mine, there’s no better way to light a fire under them then by telling them they will be playing for others! With upcoming holidays, there are plenty of fun “themed” recitals that you can schedule — a costume recital for Halloween, a holiday recital featuring holiday music, a Thanksgiving recital to benefit the local food bank…you get the idea.
- Find music your students love to play and can succeed at. Yes, make sure they are practicing their scales and being plenty challenged — but it doesn’t hurt to throw in a little Beatles or Disney now and then. When your students are learning to play a song they actually enjoy playing, they’re more likely to practice!
- Put an incentive program into place. This can be something as simple as sticker rewards, or you can get a little more creative and promise a holiday party at the end of the semester for all students who practice a certain number of days. Put a chart on the board so that students can see their progress and engage in a little healthy competition!
- Record your students playing. They’ll enjoy hearing themselves play and learn and grow from the experience. If your studio has high quality recording equipment, use this as a reward — students can make their own “album” as a Christmas gift at the end of the semester if they have four or five performance-ready pieces!
What ways do you motivate students at the beginning of the school year?