Note Ninjas Escape Room
Ten students attended and 3 of our teen students came to help out and man our 3 Note Drill stations:
Our Ninja Prize Box
It was such a fun event! We got such good feedback from the parents, and it was encouraging seeing the students' scores improve on each repetition of the activities. We will definitely be doing another "Escape Room" again.
A Cute Christmas Gift
In September a whole bunch of new kiddos signed up for lesson with us. It has been a delight teaching them. This Christmas we are planning a mini-recital during the last lesson of the year, and we put together cute sticker/candy packs with encouraging greeting cards for each student to collect after the recital.
The stickers and cards are available on the Piano Together Etsy Store.
Piano Stickers Galore
Students love stickers.
Piano students love piano stickers.
This year, we're finally returning to in-person lessons for new students, and we have made personalized stickers for them to put on their folders and music books. We'll also be adding stickers to the Piano Packs that we mail to online students.
This summer, we tested different styles of stickers on some of our summer students. They were such a big hit - even some of the older teens (14, 15, 16 year olds) were delighted with them, so we are making them available to others on the Piano Together Etsy Store.
Our stickers come in sets of 8 or 16, and you can personalize each sticker in the set. For example, if you have 16 students, just select the style you want, enter the student names, and we'll set you 16 personalized stickers. I'm sure your student will love them just as much as ours do!
All stickers are 25% off through August 31. Yay!
The Fantastic 30
This summer, we had a lot of fun with the PianOlympics piano practice incentive. The students worked hard in teams to gain as many practice points as possible, and the winners were super excited to receive their prizes in the mail. We are still online so the prizes were mailed out, but the students were delighted to receive a package addressed to themselves.
The only downside of the PianOlympics incentive, was the fact that a few of the members of the winning teams, hadn't actually contributed very much to the team. So this month, we started the Fantastic-30 practice challenge.
Students are being challenged to complete at least 30 pieces of music before the end of the school year. A piece is counted as 'complete' when the student has played it to recital level at 2 separate lessons. We ran this challenge a few years ago when we were in-person, but as we are still online, we are making the most of the visual effects of PowerPoint. At the start of each lesson, we share the Fantastic-30 PowerPoint on the screen so the students can see how they are doing compared to other students at the same level. They are really motivated to keep up with each other right now.
We're including pictures of the PowerPoint slides in our monthly newsletter, so that parents can see how their child is doing and encourage them in their practice.
We are also encouraging the students to select 2 or 3 pieces they really like, and to memorize them. Our recitals are pre-recorded online, so not much memorizing has been happening for a while, and we want to get back into that.
Prizes go to the first 3 students to reach 15 pieces, and then later to the first 3 students to reach 30. We will also have a prize at the end of the year, for the student who learned the most pieces of music. We are expecting big progress this year! Yay!
The Piano Games Summer Program
This summer, we are running a super piano practice incentive for our students. After learning about the copyright on the word "Olympics", I settled for the title - "The Piano Games." I doubt the students will mind - they are more focused on the prizes than the title!
We are still online and won't be returning to in-person lessons for the rest of 2021, so our "score charts" are all on PowerPoint. (Even when we return to in-person, we will still use PowerPoint for games and charts - it is so easy to amend things and put together a quick game to reinforce concepts! PowerPoint rocks!)
First of all, a big "Thank You" to the fantastic music teachers on Facebook whose suggestions helped me to put this program together.
So we will be having team events and solo events. The students are split into 4 teams. We tried to make it even by having the same number of students at the same level in each team. We've also made sure that the students who practice a lot are not all in the same team, and the students who practice a lot less are also in different teams. The team events are:
When a student scores a point, we'll "color" one of the blocks for their team. The visual effect will be a big motivator. We did a similar thing with charts on the wall a few years back when we were in-person, and as soon as the students entered the room, they checked the charts to see how their team was doing :)
Solo events are:
So we will begin in July, and I'm pretty sure we'll amend some of the events before then - (we may incorporate some worksheet events or some coloring events), but this is what we've come up with so far. We will still be online through the summer so the PowerPoint charts will be instrumental in keeping the students motivated.
You are welcome to download the PowerPoint and to amend it to fit your studio. Create the events, determine which will be team events and which will be individual events, rename the teams if you like, and add your own students names. Even if you're doing in-person lessons, your students will enjoy seeing the scores each week.
Let us know if you need any help tailoring it to your studio!
No Piano Lessons This Summer?
In the past we have given prizes for those who practice 40 days or more (and sound like it!), but we won't be doing that this year. Instead, we will ask them to send in videos of completed pieces - just to keep them playing instead of doing mad practice the week before their lessons restart.
If you think it will be useful for your studio, click on the images and download the PDF. Print it double-sided, flipping on the short edge. If you would like the editable Publisher Document so you can personalize it for your students/studio, let us know and we will email it to you.
The Cat Is Back
On a previous post, we shared how we used "Cat Coins" to keep our students motivated to practice. This month, we are doing it again with a new cat.
At the school year end in June, we took a break from the cat, But this month, the Cat is Back! I will write the names on the "Cat Coins" and put them in the cat myself - in full view of the students. We will have different colored coins this time so the students can have fun selecting a cat coin color (I know we'll need to reserve 5 minutes of lesson time for the selection lol!) Then we will pick a name out every 2 months and the winner will receive their own "Cat Piggy Bank."
I am super excited to tell the students the Cat is Back. I know they will be even more excited about it than I am!
We have worked extra hard to keep our students motivated this year. In March 2020, we went from 5% online lessons to 100% online lessons, and with students being in front of a screen so much already, we wanted piano lessons to be very different from school. One of our motivators was to give the students Piano Packs at the start of he school year. The packs were different depending on the student’s level, but we included things that would be fun for them.
For example, our Mini-Mozarts students play an online game called Rainbow Keys - so they had rainbow shaped erasers in their packs. (They all noticed it looked like the rainbow on the game 😄).
Our pre-primer students are working on finger numbers and the musical alphabet, so they had thimbles -for our finger number games, and alphabet letter cards.
For the students that play Piano Bingo, we included counters for their bingo boards. Everyone got pencils, stickers and mini post-it notes. The post-it notes are great for marking practice pages and preventing the “I couldn’t remember which page I was supposed to practice” excuse 🙃.
We had a Piano-Pack-Pickup Day at the location where we used to have in-person lessons. Parents were able to drive through and pick up free Piano Packs for their kiddos. For those that were not able to make it, we mailed out the piano packs. (That ended up being a pretty expensive so next time we will probably have 2 pick up dates!)
We didn’t give Piano Packs to the teenagers - they are not particularly keen on stickers and erasers, but the packs are a big hit with our elementary school students!
I try to include Sight Reading, Note Recognition Practice, Rhythm Practice and Scales in each group lesson. My iPad and my Piano Workout cards play a big part in my success in doing this.
On the Piano Bingo board we have the following tasks:
Students are always excited to make a Bingo. Often they ask if they can work on a specific square during the lesson because completing that task will give them a Bingo.
Next year, I am modifying the board to include more pieces to learn on their own and more performance squares. I'm probably going to do away with the "prize per bingo" and replace it with a decorated noticeboard showing the student with the most Bingos. Students are always proud to see their name on the Winners Board.
Stay On The A-TRAIN
I usually have several piano practice incentives running in my studio throughout the year. This year, I added an easy to manage incentive: The A-Train.
I designed a train, printed it on magnetic paper and mounted it on the main notice board where everyone can see it. I bought some magnetic strips from a craft store and made a small magnetic name tag for each student.
My students score a grade each week for their practice. If I can hear from their performance in the lesson that they have worked on what I assigned them, I give them an "A". If they haven't made much progress that week, I give them a "B" or a "C" depending on how they do.
Students who score 4 consecutive A's, get to board the A-Train. I put their name magnet on one of the train carriages. As long as they continue to score A's, they stay on the A-Train. Scoring a B or a C means their name is removed from the train, and they have to score 4 consecutive A's to get back on the train.
This has been very effective this year - particularly with the elementary school students. No-one wants their name removed from the train and on the occasions where someone has been removed, they have worked very hard to get back on the train.
There is no prize for staying on the A-Train. Just seeing their names on the train seems to be a prize in itself!
Want to try the A-Train? Click here to download and print it. You can use regular paper and add the student names using push pins. I preferred magnets, but push pins can work too.
Julia & Diana
Two sisters on two different continents, working together, creating resources that keep our students motivated and loving piano!