I always have a "Piano Prize Box" in my studio to keep the students motivated. Unfortunately my older students don’t want Dollar Store or Oriental Trading stuff. I could tell I was missing it with the prizes one day, when one of my teenage students peered in the prize box, wrinkled her nose and said “I’m good – I don’t want anything.”
A couple of years ago, I forked out about 300 bucks on prizes (including gift cards from Amazon and Chick-fil-A, metronomes, fidget spinners . . .). Everyone was excited about the prizes that year. I was more excited with the amount of practice that happened than I was about the $300 I spent.
This year I decided to cut back on the amount I spend on prizes, so I came up with Cat Coins.
Someone bought my son a cat-shaped piggy bank. He has so many piggy banks, that I borrowed his Cat-Bank for my lessons. Using a 1-inch circular puncher I cut circles out of gold colored card. These are our “Cat Coins.”
My group lessons usually end with theory games, and I used to give a small prize to the overall winner of the gaming session.. Now, each time a student wins a game, they get to write their name on a “Cat Coin” and drop it in the Cat-Bank instead. Younger students who have practiced particularly well that week get a Cat Coin. Students who behave well in the more rowdy classes get a Cat Coin. At the end of the month, I pick a name randomly from the Cat Bank, and that student gets a prize from the Piano Prize Box.
The prize is usually a small box of Skittles (all but one of my students loves Skittles), a “cool” pencil, an invisible ink pen, treble clef key rings - things like that. Cost is way lower because I only need 10 prizes for the year (I don't do it during the summer).
And even though most students don’t win the monthly prize they are always delighted to put their names on the Cat Coins and drop them in the Cat Bank - it’s a reward in itself!
How do you reward your students?