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By Julia Kossuth

As the first month of lessons has passed, for this school year anyway, it’s been interesting to watch the interest, progress, and motivation for each student take shape. Here at the Studios of Sarah Strout, we use a point system in which each student can earn points for practicing, memorizing, performing for family, and more, all going towards getting as big a trophy as they can earn by the end of the school year.


This has made ALL the difference for a lot of kids—especially the competitive ones—as they see their stickers climbing higher and higher on the trophy chart and how other students’ stickers are climbing in relation to theirs. For the younger students, who also participate in the trophy contest, their biggest motivation typically is a piece of candy after the lesson.

The most fun part for me as a teacher is seeing a student come in bright-eyed, excitedly telling me how they’ve got a piece memorized, or finally mastered a certain part of a piece—the moment when the student “gets it” and has found motivation for themselves, apart from mom or dad telling them to practice.

Most recently, a student who hadn’t been meeting her practice goals came into her lesson last week with every day of her week filled with multiple occasions of practicing, two songs memorized, and a glow of pride from her accomplishment (credit dana). It had clicked with her.

After all, that’s what music lessons are all about: discovering the love of music and finding joy in making music yourself. With this idea as my daily goal and guide, every lesson is an opportunity to foster this love and interest.

What are some ways you motivate your students? What are some stories of progress you’ve seen in them?