Giveaways, Motivation, Practicing

July 2012 Giveaway: Shhh…Your Piano Teacher Thinks This Is Practice

Andrea & Trevor Dow of Teach Piano Today have recently created a resource called, “Shhh…Your Piano Teacher Thinks This Is Practice.”  She kindly sent me a copy to review, so I’m going to tell you about it — and give you a chance to win your own copy!

First, here is Andrea’s description of the pdf book:

The book contains 88 activities that are absolutely, positively, most definitely NOT BORING! and are designed to get students excited about spending time on the piano at home. They act as a companion to a piano students’ regular practice, and have been created to to be used with any level and any age for 88 days! Also, when teachers receive Shhhh… Your Piano Teacher Thinks This Is Practice they also receive a license to reproduce unlimited copies, as long as it is for use within their personal studio.

Each page of the book has a practice activity designed to encourage repetition during practice (without the student realizing it) and help them think about their piece in a different way (like asking them to find all the C’s in their piece, or practice the rhythm of the LH).  Some of the activities also encourage students to share their music, by asking students to play a piece for a family member.  

Here an example of a practice activity:

“What’s black and white and red all over?  A zebra with sunburn!  And, your music!  Use a red marker to circle all the bass clef D’s in your practice pieces this week.”

The activities on each page are accompanied by cute illustrations.  Everything is in black-and-white which makes printing copies of this book for your student more affordable (which I so appreciate!).  To see more, you can download three free sample pages from the book here.

This book a great solution for students who perhaps could use an extra boost of encouragement to practice or need help figuring out effective ways to practice.  However, this book might not be suitable for every student.  I personally wouldn’t give it to a very young beginner or a teenager.  And, for a student who is already practicing effectively and efficiently, this book may be a bit of a distraction.  But I think it could be a very effective tool for students who aren’t practicing enough or efficiently.  Many kids will think these activities are “cool” and “fun!”

Andrea & Trevor’s book can be purchased and downloaded here for $39.99.

…Or, you could win your own copy!  Here are the details:  To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below this post by Monday, July 30 at midnight EST, with a tip about how you motivate your students to practice!  Two winners will be drawn via random number generator and announced the next day.  Good luck, and I’m looking forward to reading your ideas!

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117 thoughts on “July 2012 Giveaway: Shhh…Your Piano Teacher Thinks This Is Practice”

  1. Sadly, I’ve found pure bribery works very well. I’ve seen students excel in their lessons for candy or treats. But at the same time, I see them get excited about the progress they are making, and then their motivation morphs into wanting to make more progress!

  2. This summer I have been giving points for practicing, going to musical events such as concerts and musicals, and doing their theory. When they reach 10 points, they color a scoop of ice cream on their chart and once they reach 40 points, they get a gift card to buy an ice cream cone, flavor of their choice. It seems to be working! My grandson who is also my student, asked him mom if he could go to one of the musicals on their cruise so he could get a point in piano! Your book looks fabulous! Would love to have it!

  3. I have an incentive box with pencils, erasers, stickers etc, as well as a practice chart on the wall so the students can compete with each other for more stickers on the chart. I also offer some free music if a bigger goal has been achieved.

  4. To motivate my students to practice, I have them log their practice times. If they practice 5 out of the 7 days, they get a sticker. When the get 10 stickers, they get a small prize!

  5. In the past I have also had practice contests with ice cream as the prize. 🙂 Most of my students loved that. But when I have a set time that all of my students have to reach, it is too easy for some of them and too hard for others. Now I set goals (not always about practicing 🙂 ) specific to each student and when they reach those goals they get to pick a small prize out of my prize box.

    1. I love this idea…having set general goals myself, it is hard to find ones that suit all students. Your idea is well-rounded. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I have a 1000 minute club which each student can join by logging their practice minutes. Once they reach 1000 they get their picture on my board and a container of 1000 chocolate covered sunflower seeds.

  7. The book looks interesting, Joy! I have a yearly incentive program. Last year it was based on earning 5 Jelly Bellys for every GOAL they reached. I assigned goals and numbered them on a page. We decided together how successful they were and then added the Jelly Bellys to a small jelly jar with their name labeled on it. I’m so done with awarding anything just for practice, I wanted goals reached to prove they had practiced efficiently. If someone wants to see the blog post I wrote about it, go to and click on blog. I have a new website,, but haven’t migrated the blog to the new site yet.

  8. My students practice really hard when they know we will be making a video of their piece. They really love watching their videos 🙂

    1. Videos and recordings are super great; students work twice as hard when you give them a deadline like that, plus it’s a great keepsake of their playing.

  9. I love how this book can be used for all of my students!
    Currently I’m doing a practice marathon to go along with our other Piano Olympics contests (Triad Triathalon, Note Name Dash, etc.) for the summer. The winner of each contest is awarded a chocolate medal at our final group lesson of the summer.

  10. The book looks fab some of my kids will enjoy the extra incentive. When exams loom on the horizon I sometimes resort to bribery-chocolate usually does the trick! Otherwise I run an incentive scheme each year with prizes at the end.

  11. That books looks amazing!!!!!!!! I really want it. Haha.

    I recently moved and am working to open a new studio! I have some fun ideas to motivate students using technology like Instagram & iPads!

  12. I find students will practise more when they are preparing for a performance, so I try to create or suggest lots of opportunities for performances that matter to them: recitals, festivals, exams, talent shows, school assemblies, offertories or special music in church, etc. Sometimes I tell them they will be giving *me* a concert at their next lesson in order to pass off a piece or even to get promoted to their next book.

  13. When I assign extra theory worksheets, I promise double stickers if they complete all the extra work. I buy large packs of cute seasonal stickers at the teacher supply store and have lots of choices for them. While we do lose a minute in the choice, getting to choose 2 stickers per page works with all my kids! HA!

    I know my kids and I would love some more fun ideas to encourage practice!


  14. This is the one area I consistently feel I lack – good motivation for practicing!!!!!!!!!!!! I do prizes, I do “mandatory” times (occasionally) and other things… but I need HELP 🙂

  15. This is a really creative way to get my kid’s staying motivated. I love finding new worksheets and all to recommend or print for my students.

  16. One time I made up a practice bag. This was a decorated lunch bag with little paper slips in it. Each slip said something like: play the piece with all staccatos, play loudly, play softly, play at a higher octave etc. Then when the student went to practice each day she would pick out a slip from the bag and follow the instructions while she practiced. She really liked playing the piece down on the bass notes and it got her to experiment a little bit.

    Although it wouldn’t be something I would have them do every week, I like the idea of using it with students who are getting bored of practicing and need something to spur them on.

  17. It’s tough. I think more frequent, informal “house concerts” sometimes motivates students to practice if they know they will be preforming more frequently. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always the prize bag with dollar store prizes 🙂

  18. My students have individual goals for practice time and how practice time is used (one size doesn’t fit all), and they know that the better they know their assigned music, the more time we have left each week for games and other activities.

  19. At the music school where I currently work, we have a “Be Sharp (B#) Club”: each student who meets their individual practice goals for the week gets one entry into a lottery-style contest for movie ticket vouchers. The more weeks you meet goals, the more entries you get! Each student with at least one entry gets recognized on a studio-wide bulletin board, along with a photo of the 2 winners and their teachers each month.

    Another, more intense, idea is the “100 Day Club” done at a Suzuki school I used to work at. Each student’s family that participates is given a calendar and 100 stickers on the first day. The goal is to practice EVERY DAY for 100 days, even if it is only a little each day. Smaller prizes are given on day 10, 25, 50, and 75 for those that make it that far, and each student who makes 100 days gets to participate in a special performance and pizza party. The parents have to be involved in keeping the students honest, but it works well. Even a couple of the teachers got in on this one!

  20. I reward with points every lesson that they have practiced. With the points I have different boxes they can use their points for. I also have been doing incentive programs the past few years.

  21. Thanks for the opportunity to win such a neat book. I’ve tried lots of practice incentives but candy seems to always do the trick.

  22. My students are motivated to practice when they know we will be recording a piece and exchanging them with other students for “peer evaluation”. Nobody knows the name of the performer they’re hearing, and they love to try to guess who it is! If we’re having an event, we record them for “self evaluation”, and, if a student won’t be able to attend the event in person, he knows his recording will be played on a “playlist” that will be playing as the parents and students are entering the recital venue. Being recorded a real motivator!

  23. This book looks amazing! Like some of the other teachers have said I use a prize/treat incentive program and when they get a sticker on each piano key on their paper they get a treat. I have also thought about doing some sort of competition for my more competitive kids. : )

  24. This sounds like an awesome book!

    I use an incentive program, earn 20 points and they get a small prize from my treasure box. Each thing that they accomplish is 1 point, and I have a list of specific tasks (ie. completing theory homework, one piece practiced, etc.) and they can earn as many as 5 points in one lesson.

  25. It seems like a great book and we all need ideas to motivate. I find that I have to creatively change my incentives each year and sometimes for each student. I use an incentive program each year which includes practice time as part of one of the goals. I have used studio money, practice charts, prize boxes, etc. but find that the best way is to find what actually motivates each student and work with them in that way. Sometimes their motivation is a new piece of music!

  26. I just happened across your blog as a recommendation from a friend and I love this idea of the book!! 🙂 Often times, an upcoming recital or performance is a good motivational tool for practicing harder… 🙂

  27. My students LOVE Jennifer Fink’s “Musikopoly”!!! The grand prize is actually happening tonight – I’m taking 2 carloads of “Musikopoly Masters” to the local drive-in theatre to see Spiderman. The local drive-in has “Carload Thursdays” where a carload only costs $15. So, for only $15 plus maybe $5 in bulk candy & 2 bags of chips, I’ve made some older piano students VERY HAPPY! I did this last year & they talked about it all year & asked what movie we’re seeing this year. Our family would have gone anyways, so I’m only counting 1 carload as an “expense”.
    I’ll probably do it again in August to make the younger Musikopoly Masters happy (a more little-kid friendly movie, plus later in the summer it will start earlier than 9:30).
    To capitalize on the outing, I’ll be posting photos of the evening on Facebook & my website, as well as referring to it next weekend when I have a booth at our local festival.
    Did it incite my students to practice? I think so, especially the older ones who understand the prize! Even the younger ones appreciated collecting Bach Bucks every week & trading them in for stickers.
    I’m going to run Natalie Wickam’s Italian Intrigue next year, and hopefully with the same type of prize (the drive-in) – definitely a winner with my studio!

  28. This summer, my students are earning tickets toward a student pool party in my backyard at the end of the summer. They earn tickets by practicing and marking their practice chart, polishing up solos, playing duets with a partner, completing their theory assignment, having a great attitude during lessons, and so on. They must have 10 tickets for admission to the party. Parents are donating food and drinks for the party and the remainder of their tickets can be used to “purchase” refreshments. The students are very excited about the party and are motivated to earn those tickets so they can come to my house and enjoy time with the other students from the studio.

  29. In the past I’ve done a piano bucks type incentive, but not based on minutes or days of practice. This will not continue for fall…I’m still seeking the exact solution that will best fit “my kids”, but I’m thinking more piano parties (aka group classes) with performance opportunities will be a big part of it. For the summer, I do have an Olympics themed challenge going for work on 5 key areas (scales/chords/arps, technique studies, sightreading, written theory and copy work).

  30. This book looks so fun!! For my students, I give “Piano Money” for reaching goals we set each week at lessons. Once a month they have an opportunity to buy treats from my “Piano Store” with the money they earned! It has worked well so far 🙂

  31. My student’s each have a binder that has the clear plastic insert in the front. We write their name all fancy on a piece of paper that goes in the insert. Every week that they practice what is required on their practice log they get to put a sticker on their insert and also on mine (I have my own binder – theirs is black and mine is white). They receive double stickers for the two weeks leading to performances and evaluations. Prizes are given out at the Spring recital for “levels” of the amount of stickers they receive…so it’s a school year long contest but it always seems to work. All of them receive something, even if it’s little, so that they don’t get discouraged if they work hard and don’t win. However, the top winner is recognized at the recital and in the program. It seems to really motivate them, not to mention they LOVE to see my many inserts that I go through during the year since I rack up so many stickers since I get one from all of them too!

  32. Hi! Wow this book looks like sooo much fun! I’m always looking for some new exercises for my kiddies! I like using percussion instruments to demonstrate rhythm. I mostly motivate my students with positive words like ‘you’re getting really good at this’ or ‘you’re almost better than me!’. I love to see their face light up and they practice even harder then. I love your books on piano and thank you for all your hard work to make ours a bit lighter 🙂

  33. The book sounds great. Lots of great ideas in the comments as well. I mainly use stickers and performances, but have lots of new ideas to try now.

  34. Wow! This resource looks great! I’d love to try it with my students.

    I try to find music for each student that will motivate him to practice–a piece that the student just can’t wait to get to the piano to play. It might be sightreading a book of Disney songs or learning a showy sheet music solo or learning how to accompany a favorite song from church. We also regularly pick favorites from the lesson book to record.

    We have regular performance classes (about once a month during the school year), recitals, and festival: An upcoming performance provides a reason for making piano practice a priority.

    Students also earn music money (that they later spend on prizes) by achieving musical goals. They can’t accomplish the goals without practice!

  35. For elementary age students, I give them a sticker every time they pass a piece. When they reach 20, they get a prize from the prize box. Simple, easy for me to keep track of, and it motivates work on each piece. I’d love a copy of the book to help encourage repetition, since that’s a hard thing to get kids to do on their own.

  36. I use a sticker chart to mark their accomplishments. Each group has their own chart and it is a competition to see who can fill up their stickers chart first. Things like scales, flashcards, and completed pieces make up the chart.

  37. I do a year long incentive every year. This year I am planning an around the world theme. The students will receive passports that they stamp after completing certain goals. At the end of the year the more stamps they have received….the bigger their trophy will be.

  38. Contests! I have a new contest each year to help motivate my students to practice. It’s amazing what they can accomplish with a little motivation. 🙂

  39. So many great suggestions. I usually do 5 recitals a year or more. All different. One is a live performance at a open house event mixed in with singers, dancers and other performances. Second is a formal recital held in a music hall with friends and family. Last I have beginner recitals from my group classes. They all receive certificates. I hand out trophies at special events only.

  40. During the school year, I used Natalie Wickam’s “Let’s Have a Ball!” and the kids really did get a kick out of it. For the summer, I chose to do an ice cream themed incentive where the students “earn” scoops and are given different ways to do so. I have found that incentives work with the elementary school age great, but the older ones, not so much. I’ve been “eyeing” this book for awhile, would love to win!

  41. What a cool book!! I would love to have a copy as well. To get my students to practice, I try to do some sort of incentive every couple months. I have used the one that’s on the sample pdf about playing your piece for someone. I’ve had them go to someone (that they don’t live with) and play their song in person and the listener must write comments about how the student did. Then they return the sheet to me. Also, a great thing to do when the kids get the winter blahs is to do a “blackout bingo” sheet. I made up a sheet with 9 squares (sometimes more) and they each say something different. For example, “I practiced every day this week” or “I wrote my practice time in my book” or “I played a song with correct dynamics” or “I played a song following all directions (endings, slurs, ties, etc). At the end of the lesson, the student and I choose one or two that they feel they completed during the lesson. When they are able to cross off all the squares, they get their “blackout bingo” and get to choose a prize from my prize bag. The kids really enjoy that!

  42. Treats for practicing at least 5 days during the week. AND if the song is learned well enough, it is recorded on my digital piano and then included in a personal CD for the semester. I’ve been looking at that book and I really want to get one! Winning one would be even better! I enjoy your blog!

  43. I am fairly new to piano teaching so I am really enjoying all the tips! I haven’t yet, but I would love to do some sort of incentive for students. I love the working toward ice cream idea. I try to encourage effective practicing rather than quantity of practice. Whenever my students has an excellent week where I can tell he has practiced really hard, I try and praise that as much as I can.

  44. I have grown a bit tired of giving treats/rewards for practicing….so this book looks like there are some great ideas. I would love to win this!

  45. HI.
    I use the sight reading exercise in the front of the Schaum Red Book. I call it my say and play chart – Say the note then play the note, hands seperately.
    I time it and take an average time for left and right hand. This then puts them into the 3 minute club, 2 minute club, or right down to the 30 second club.
    The incentive is the largest slab of chocolate I can find to each person who gets into the 30 seconds club.
    Just this week I have had my first student (in 14 years) achieve this and others are now chasing hard. (ironically, this student may not eat sweets …) But his photo is up in the studio.
    I find this dramatically improves reading skills.

  46. I also use the 1,000-Minute Club chart in our studios. For the first chart filled out, they get a prize from our prize box. For the 2nd completed chart (2,000-Minute), I give them a small piggy bank. I write their name on the side of the bank and then they name their pig and that name goes under its chin. The pigs stay on top of the piano in the studio for 2 months. Every week the student reaches their practice goal, I give them a quarter to “feed” their pig. After 2 months, they take the pig home and feed it themselves. We also display colored-in charts on the studio walls.

  47. I love motivating my students via games. “If they get 4 straight days of practicing (20 minutes a day) I will provide a game the next week”…..Nothing motivates like potential fun.

  48. What a great resource to have all of these ideas in one place, organized and at your fingertips! So much better than having to write them in the assignment and probably better remembered .

  49. I’ve found with incentive programs I have to make sure the incentive is something the child actually wants. I can’t offer the same incentive to all. For one, it may be chocolate, for another icecream, for another a trinket, etc. I have to discover what motivates that particular individual for the incentive program to work.

  50. I love this book! The first time I saw it I knew I had to have it. The ideas are very clever and I believe they will get my students more engaged in the lesson.

  51. I think your right. This book of exercises would only work for certain students. I agree – teenagers wouldn’t do these .
    I have a music store where everyone under 13 can earn music bucks. (Anyone over 13 chooses not to participate – but occasionally I ask them if they would like something from the store and they usually say “yes.”) My students earn one music buck for every hour they practice, 1 buck for doing their theory, 1 buck for attending lesson, 1 buck for each piece they pass off, 5 bucks for reading their music magazine, 10 bucks for performing in church, 10 bucks for attending a concert and so forth. It has worked well for me. Challenge – finding things they would like in the store. On group lesson day, the store is half price! Usually close to group lesson time, they choose to save their money so they can shop on that day!

  52. My kids are all from my school and one incentive is that when they have prepared through good practice (quality) they get to perform for their class. Sometimes we will do a duet if it is a young player and the class is always wowed! The applause and admiration from their peers is a great motivator. It also helps them memorize their music in case it is their music class day and don’t have their music with them. I also give smelly stickers on completed and well played songs and they love these.
    I love all of the ideas shared here and all of your great games -thanks for sharing and I hope I am lucky in this give away.

  53. I do what my teacher did – choose a beautiful stamp each week that the students can get on their page for a beautifully performed piece. They love it! I also arrange pieces for them and make a big deal of piano parties and recitals – it does an excellent job motivating them!

  54. I change my incentive programs every fall. It might be a point system with a trophy at the end of the year and a banquet, or stickers that earn prizes, piano dollars to spend at the studio storehouse, read-athon to win a keyboard,etc. But the point is to get the students excited about practicing. When I tried nothing but stickers, it just didn’t seem to work very well.

  55. Incentives are great, and I admit I use them too. My kids get a “smelly sticker” if they practice 6 days for an agreed time. But what are they practicing?? I have to ensure they are excited to practice what they are given. Junk percussion for rhythms, games and composing their own songs with lyrics relevant to only them on Sibelius consolidating new notes/ concepts. Always think outside the square.

  56. I’m excited about this book! I use a lot of verbal praise, practice strategies and goal setting with my students to motivate them to practice, so this is right up my alley!

  57. I love getting all these great ideas! I am starting the piano Olympics in September to get my students motivated, even though its after the real Olympics. Also, to get my students back into practicing after a long break, I will allow them to pick from the candy jar if they have practiced 5 of 7 days for the week. After that has been accomplished, I have them maintain the minimum for 3 weeks in order to pick candy. That helps them gain momentum and continually have a goal in front of them.

  58. I divide my teaching year into trimesters: the first trimester is a car race (posterboard w/small cars to move); they move their cars simply by how many days they practice (everyone needs re-motivation in the fall after having a lazy summer). Squares on the racetrack require flashcard reviews, etc. The 2nd trimester the emphasis is how they practice. They get a report card each week and get a music buck according to completion of pieces ($5 for memorization). Third trimester is on performance/composition. They are working for an individual performance party (during their lesson time) and must complete a list of pieces and original compositions.

  59. I’ve have charts, stickers, and a treasure box of prizes like the best of them, but what I really like to do to encourage my students is to supplement their course books with music they really like. I will find 2-3 pieces within their range that I beleive they will like (or even from a composer/era we are learning about). I will play through them and give them the choice of which they would like to learn to play. This gives them the chance to hear what their options will sound like, judge which they feel they will be able to master, and chose what they like the best and feel the most eager/confident to try. It’s not “just the next page” in their book and they are often more excited about a specially chosen piece.

  60. I haven’t done any specific practice incentives but I do find that having a recital on the horizon propels many of my students to new levels of practicing!

  61. I’m an American teaching overseas. Many of my students are American kids whose parents are working here. Therefore, American candy that is not available here is always a big hit. I keep a gumball machine full of Skittles candy, and for each day they do their required practice, they get a Skittle candy out of the machine. It doesn’t seem like much, but because they are such a treat, the kids really look forward to it!

    1. I use Bach Bucks. I make specific chores worth a certain number of Bach Bucks and they fill in the bubbles for how many times they did it. I can get kids to do just about anything with those Bach Bucks!

  62. Would love to win a copy of this book! In answer to your question about motivation, Joy, in my studio it’s about repertoire, repertoire, repertoire! If I can “hook” the students in with an attractive piece that they like, it’s practice/play-city at home.

  63. Hi have small incentive chart I tape to their binder and when they get 30 stickers, they get to go to the treasure box. I also have smaller incentive box that I use in order to motivate some students… I actually love giving prizes away :)) I wish my teachers would have done that.

  64. I give out milestone prizes and we make recordings (with the professional-looking equipment– everyone’s intimidated and practices twice as hard…). Stickers are fun (I’m a big fan of stickers myself) and inexpensive to reward.

  65. Great ideas. I use a LOT of incentives. One summer review package I sent out is little tree branch fishing rods with a long string tied on to the end. Then I drew little fish t on paper (that could be cut out in squares, one fish per square) For every review activity that the children did, they glued a fish on to their fishing line and returned to the first day of class with their line of fish. (and chose a prize from the treasure box) I try to come up with a fun game/craft/activity for the month before lessons. Activities are fun, short and always review. It is an incentive for me too, because the kids come back well prepared to get right back into playing.
    Thanks for this great site! Such inspiration!

  66. Hi
    Here’s an incentive that I have sent to students to complete in the last month of summer break. I tied a long string on to small twigs to make a fishing rod for each student. Then I drew little fish that could be cut out (in squares for faster cutting) and glued on to the fishing line. I sent a list of activities that I wanted completed, and for each activity completed, the students glued on one fish. Then they return to their first class and show me their fishing lines full of fish — and choose a prize from the treasure box. It is an incentive for me as well – so nice to have students who are well-prepared for getting back into playing.
    Thanks for your great site! Such an inspiration!

  67. I use a chart with stickers to encourage students to practice. It doesn’t seem to work very well, so I always include a “fun song” (something that is familiar to them) in the assignment with the instruction that all of the lesson music must be practiced first before the fun song. At the next lesson, they are usually so anxious to play the fun song first, but I tell them how excited I am to hear it at the end of the lesson. Most students enjoy playing what they know, so I use fun songs as a reward for practicing!
    However, I am learning a lot by reading the other comments…thanks for sharing. I would love to have this book also!

  68. I have tried many things to help motivate my kids to practice. This summer we are having a pizza party. After they perform a piece for the other students we will celebrate the end of summer with pizza, ice cream and fun games that they have earned.

  69. For each week of full practice, I award 5 “piano bucks”. The student uses them like real cash to purchase items in my piano store at the end of each quarter. For big items, they may choose to save until the end of the semester or even the school year.

    Items range from pencils to tshirts and jewelry. I’ve been doing this for at least 20 years and the kids (parents included) love it!

  70. I try to motivate my students to practice by giving them “points” for pieces that they play well and have polished. Five points will allow the student to earn a bookmark (which I decorate) and a collection of five bookmarks allows the student to earn a “beady lizard” (which I also make).

    I have done this for several years and with younger students this seems to be a very big motivator..especially the beady keychain.

    I would love to win the book…even though I have taught for years, there is always something new to learn.
    Happy Teaching!

  71. I saw this on the Teach Piano Today website and thought it was so ingenious. I love anything that might get my student’s to practice more. I have tried bribery it does not always work. I have one student that does not practice at all and still loves coming to lessons. Go figure.

  72. This looks like a great resource and this comment area is a wonderful way not only to put our names in to win a copy, but to share our own teaching ideas. Similar to the activities you’ve shared from “Shhh….,” I like to play a game with my beginning students where we take turns finding all the keys with the same letter name on the keyboard. I say, “I’ll count to four and then take my turn to find a ‘C’ on the keyboard and then I’ll count to four and it will be your turn to find a ‘C’ on the keyboard.” The thing I like most about this game is that you can count quickly or slowly depending on the level of skill the student has reached.

  73. I love the idea of this book, and also love everyone’s ideas for motivating their students! I have had a “star chart” for many years for motivation during the lessons, in which the kids get stars for sightreading, doing their theory homework, memorizing their pieces, and for practicing. When they complete a row of stars, they get candy or a trinket (whatever motivates them) at the end of the lesson. Works best for younger than teenagers though. 🙂

  74. This book looks great! I’ve done the sticker reward system where if they practiced a certain number of days or minutes they got a sticker and then got a prize after filling a sticker sheet. I love the idea of video taping a piece. I could really use more ideas for motivating my students.

  75. I have also found that candy is a great motivator…..if they do a minimum amount during the week, they get a pack of Smarties. If they do this for 10 weeks in a row, they get to choose a bigger prize. Some students consistently do this each week, some not so much. This new resource looks like it’s full of excellent new ideas! Thanks for sharing it!!!

  76. I have a hard time following through with more complicated reward programs, so I’m looking for something simple. This book would be helpful for that.

  77. Every week I put a lesson sheet in a 3 ring binder for the students so they know what to work on. At the beginning of every semester I also put a “Notes about Practice Sheet” sheet in student binders filled with tips and ideas for practice along with recommended practice times based on length of study. If all 4 parts of the lesson sheet are complete: completed practice log, stickers on last weeks songs, completed theory work and a correct answer on the “Minute to Win It” quiz question I put on the white board for a warm up at the beginning of every lesson then students can pick a prize from my Prize Bin or receive a plastic token to “bank” for bigger prizes such as sheet music, studio t-shirt, free lesson, white board or a music game. The little kids usually take the prize bin and the older kids save up their tokens to buy the bigger items.

  78. I use a token economy to help motivate my students to practice. They LOVE it! Some are already “hooked” on practicing, but still love getting rewards. Others are still moving in that direction. 🙂

  79. i have to ‘bribe’ them with gifts or i organized a luncheon with them. They really love it. It’s like a get together with the rest of my students since I am a private teacher. Every time after an examination session, we will have a ‘after exam’ party so this greatly motivate my students to practice. But I am looking for something different.


  80. What a great idea for a book! Besides candy and stickers, my students are always most motivated by our recitals every year! Nothing motivates the kids to practice hard when they know that they’ll be performing for a room full of people!!

  81. I have a theme every year. My students earn coins, stickers, cards, or whatever based on what the theme is. This year, I am doing “Passport to Music” and kids will be earning stamps in their passports for accomplishing specific goals for each country we visit. I would love to win this book!

  82. I use a different theme every year. This year, students will be working towards stamps in their passports as we travel around the world. What a fun book.

  83. I do what we call the skittle game. Using flash cards, the students get a skittle for every correct note identified. They only get to play the game if there is left over time at the end of their lesson, which motivates them to practice well so they pass the songs off quickly. Also during the summer I do a 100 challenge. They get a king size candy bar after completing 100 theory worksheets. Seems like a lot, but they do it!

  84. I am looking for new ideas to encourage my students to practice without feeling I am forcing them to do so. Lots of great ideas!

  85. I motivate my students to practice with Practice Incentives – like collecting candy canes for their stockings for every five days of practice. I also have fundraisers – we had one this past year for a young student of mine diagnosed with cancer. We raised $1200!! My students were eager to practice and collect money based on how much they practiced. Lastly, I use recitals, exams and festivals as motivation to practice!

  86. This sounds like a very interesting book. I am always on the look out for new ways to enhance the learning of my students.

    My students also took part in a fund raiser for our local Camp Quality organization (this organization creates a camp and other year long activities for children living with and recovering from cancer).

  87. Joy – Thank you for offering this giveaway! I would be very excited to win the book! My students participate in an annual practice incentive where they earn rewards for practicing as well as performing, theory, technique, etc. Last year our theme was “The Piano Action Challenge”. We kicked off the year with a party where I had a live action model for the students to see and touch so that they could see how a piano action works. Later in the year, I had another party where my piano technician took my piano apart and taught the students about the action and parts. Throughout the year, the students earned piano parts, and those who completed the challenge went on a field trip to the Piano Technician’s Guild Museum, where we also had a pizza party. It is a fabulous museum with so many interesting and historical pianos, as well as action models – the students and parents really enjoyed it!

  88. First of all, thanks for sharing so many great ideas and resources. They are so helpful! My students can earn points and when they reach 25 points, they can pick a prize from my “piano basket.” I’ve also done some practice incentives and challenges and students’ progress is shown on a chart in my studio. Some of my students are quite competitive, and the chart has definitely helped.

  89. First of all, I LOVE the preview of this book!
    As a newer piano teacher I am still struggling to find ways to motivate my students to practice at home. Often it comes down to bribery. I have some younger students that would catch on to this book. And I have some older students who need a different kind of motivation. Any ideas from you seasoned teachers?

  90. I bring two similar-level students together and do “challenges” for a skill that they are both working on. e.g. naming notes, putting in barlines, with a (food) treat for the winner of each section.

  91. I had an incentive program based on the Minute to Win It game, where students could earn the opportunity to do a one-minute music challenge if they practiced a certain amount. Extra practicing = extra chances. Anyone completing all 20 levels by the end of the year earned a trophy.

  92. Would love to win a copy of the practice book. I enjoy trying new ways to motivate my students. Thank you for the opportunity Joy.

  93. My students earn stickers for each page completed. When they have 25 stickers, they get to choose a prize. I am considering adding a year-end prize for meeting a required number of minutes practiced.

  94. I have been teaching for many years – – and I am still always looking for new incentives to motivate my students. Stickers work for the younger ones – but the olders students need other challenges. I need ideas that are not too time-consuming for me as a teacher and easy to implement.

  95. I love these folks! They put out great and helpful products for piano teachers. I hope I win – but if I don’t, I’ll probably make the purchase anyway. It will be worth it!

    This week, I offered a student a prize if they practiced their lesson. And I heard its already working- now I just have to find a great prize! Any suggestions? 🙂

  96. I have used several practice incentives in my studio. I found that candy or treats at the end of the lesson weren’t near as effective as a prize system. I alternate between gift cards and a prize box with quality prizes ($5 or more value, but purchased on sale). My students receive points, tallies, stickers (I alternate) for number of days they practiced, theory assignments, great technique, great sight reading, etc. and after 50 points they get to choose a prize from the box. One time I did $10 gift card from Target and they had to earn 100 points. This was a little too many to have to earn, but they kids LOVED the gift cards so it was worth the long wait!!! Thank you for your wonderful blog. I have gotten so many great ideas from you and also appreciate so much the files with games and worksheets. Thank you so much for being so generous!!!

  97. I try to motivate my students by making sure that one of their pieces is a favorite, sometimes of their choice every few weeks, hopefully getting them to the piano more often. I also do a contest, incentive program between January and the end of the year recital which helps keep them going the second half of the school year.

  98. To motivate my students to practice, I use stickers for practicing and for doing other things well. When students get a certain number of stickers, I have a prize box that they can choose from. I would love to use this book to get more ideas for motivating my students!

  99. I feel that it’s important to involve students in selecting some of their pieces. I also find that recitals motivate everyone to practice more.

  100. i usually ask my students to perform a piece for their parents or teach a song to their siblings to motivate practice time. i’ve been looking for new ideas the past couple of years and this book looks great!

  101. My students earn “Music Money” for various things each week- filling in practice sheet and bringing all their books, a perfect week of practice (7 days) doing challenges (composer, sight-reading, aural) doing exams, performing at concerts. When they have $40-$60 dollars they get to choose and awesome prize from the chest of drawers (trash packs, books, dolls etc). They love it and I get great results every week! I have Beethoven Bucks, Mozart money, Debussy dollars, Bach bucks and Clara Cash. They also learn about the composers too because they ask questions!

  102. I have several incentive in my studio from candy, fake money to get bigger prizes, playing for other students at game nights every other month, recording the song and placing it on my website, and much more. Ya’ll have lots of good ideas as well. Thank you for sharing!! 🙂

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