This past week was the first week of lessons for my spring term. I had a lot of fun coming up with an idea for this term's practice incentive, although, to give credit where credit is due, it was really my husband who inspired the idea behind the contest.
Once Christmas is past, my brain jumps ahead about 6 months and starts wishing for warmer, summer-type weather, so to keep with this theme, my spring practice incentive is tropically centered.
My students are participating in two different contests this spring. At their first lesson, I handed out a page for their activity binder with information about the two contests.
Practice Incentive #1: Just Mon-key-ing Around
This contest involves each students' weekly practice. I created a palm tree and the students' monkeys climb the palm tree as they add up practice minutes and days. I have always struggled as a teacher with whether it's better to emphasize how much students practice or how well students practice, and while I still haven't come to any definite conclusions, I felt that the contests that emphasize collecting practice minutes generally result in greater diligence on the part of my students. You can see in this picture the palm tree I created with all the monkeys piled up at the bottom waiting to begin their ascent.
Practice Incentive #2: I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts
I try to encourage memorization with my students whenever possible, but there are some students who just struggle with committing music to memory. I decided to make memorizing a goal for my studio this spring and created a contest to help inspire my students. Each student has a palm tree and they collect one coconut on their tree for each piece they memorize. I hope to encourage my students to take the idea of learning a piece by memory to heart and help them develop good memorizing habits and skills. You may not be able to see from this picture, but a few of my students already have coconuts on their palm trees!
It may still be winter here in Maryland, and cold to boot, but I'm dreaming of the tropics and I hope to see my students excel this term with these two contests!