Giveaways, Reviews

Review & Giveaway: PractizPal

A few weeks ago, I received a PractizPal device to review.  There are five wonderful colors to choose from, and I selected “Gershwin Green.”

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The PractizPal is a clever little gadget designed to help students track their practice time.  It also has a built-in metronome and tuner.  In my mind, there are two reasons why this gadget is valuable:

  • It gives students and their teachers an easy way to accurately track practice time.  
  • It is so simple and easy to use — I was very impressed.

During initial set-up, you enter the date, time, the student’s name, and the daily practice time goal.  After that, using the PractizPal is incredibly easy.  The student presses the large button to start a practice time.  The PractizPal shows the remaining time left during the practice session and beeps/applauds when the practice session is over.  The student can still use the metronome even during the practice session.

DSC_20130411_103538_1The button on the left displays a graph of the student’s practice over the course of the week.  Toggling the up and down arrows allows you to look at the graphs for previous weeks, too.  The PractizPal can store up to one year’s worth of practice time.

The PractizPal has a kick-out stand on the back so that it can stand on any flat surface.  It also has a sturdy clip allowing it to attach to a music stand.  You can check out the full product guide here.  They’ve thought of everything!

PractizPal

That said — I will now tell you that personally, my teaching approach is not require students to track their practice time.  I only ask that they make it their goal to practice every day, and that while they practice they work on the goals recorded in their assignment notebook.  This approach works very well for me and my students.  (Click here to read more about my thoughts on practice requirements.)

pzp-packedHowever, if I were a teacher were required students track their practice time, however, I would recommend the PractizPal to my students.  I’d encourage parents to give it as a birthday/Christmas gift.  The PractizPal is not only a nice option for piano students, but is probably a great solution for band/orchestra students, too.

The PractizPal is becoming available in music stores across the U.S.  The PractizPal retails for around $50-60.  Click here to locate a retailer near you.

Giveaway: For a chance to win the green PractizPal you see shown in the photos above, leave a comment on this post with a tip about motivating your students to practice!  Enter by Midnight EST on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.  The randomly-drawn winner will be announced on Thursday, April 18, 2013.  Good luck!

71 thoughts on “Review & Giveaway: PractizPal”

  1. I keep a “prize bin” (much like the one you have blogged about!) next to the piano in plain view during lessons. Students know they can not get into the prize bin unless they have learned an entire song and can play it through [correctly!] without stopping. Usually, that’s enough motivation to get them to go home and learn the piece before they come back!

  2. In the past, I have not asked students to track their minutes practiced. But I learned this year, with my own son, that 15 minutes of practice FEELS like an hour to his brain. I have been having him use a timer, just so that he realizes how long he is practicing. I can’t say that he uses is practice time effectively, every day, but at least he is sitting at the piano for a set time. Thanks for the great drawing.

  3. I tell my students to PLAY EVERYDAY! I found that if they at least sit down to play something, they will play longer than if they feel they have to meet a certain time requirement.

  4. During the month of February I held a “Practice Palooza” contest for my 8 students. Students recorded their practice minutes and bonus points (attending a concert, performing a song for more than 3 people at their house, playing a song for someone on the phone, etc.) Kdg.-3rd graders were able to multiply their minutes by 1.5 to compete against the 4th-6th graders. The student with the most points after the 4 weeks got a $5 gift card to our local movie rental store. 6 of the 8 students really got into it and I noticed greater improvements in their learning–which is the point, right? ;-)

  5. Performances always motivate my students to practice. We have group classes nearly every month where they get to play for each other. plus regular recitals, often at a local retirement center. Also, since they are more likely to practice something they love, I give them options when choosing their performance repertoire.

  6. I typically don’t require a set amount of practice time per day, but instead try to get them at the piano as many days of the week as possible. I also like to focus on reaching goals and accomplishing things in practice time, rather than the amount of time spent. I have a “Piano Points” incentive system that rewards students for number of days practiced, pieces learned, theory pages completed, etc.

  7. We just finished spring break in my part of the country. In order to keep students motivated to practice through spring break and the spring months (when we’d all rather be outside in the sunshine!), we hold a practice drawing the first week of June. Starting in March, we award tickets for every three hours of practicing. Then in June we have a drawing and give away prizes. This PractizPal would be a great prize!

  8. Often I promise double stickers on every piece we play at the next lesson IF the student has met his practice goals….or sometimes it’s double candy! :D

  9. I do encourage my students to practise every day. I have a couple of practice charts that I use each year where the students track their daily practice times. A prize awaits them when the chart is filled in. I would love to win this new gadget.

  10. I have recently switched from practice minutes to telling them to practice everyday. I have them put a check mark next to their notebook goals when they have practiced them during the week (we aim for 5 checks). My students have no idea how much it makes my day to see 5 checks in those notebooks! Joy, I LOVE your idea about putting stickers on an index card for accomplished pages/ theory pages to win a prize. I plan on stealing that idea and using it in my studio soon! Thanks for the blogs! I love your creativity.

  11. I usually tell my students to go through every song they were assigned five times every day instead of a set amount of time…works for me ( especially for beginners). I also have a chart on the bulletin board with all their names on it and award a sticker on that chart for five stars earned during a lesson. Their goal as “one” team is to earn a pizza party together if they meet the certain goal established.

  12. I have most of my students practice every day rather than a set amount of time. Right now they earn music money for their practicing, and are working toward earning musician statues. I also find that they practice more if there is a performance of some sort to work towards, so I try and provide plenty of opportunities.

  13. I have a “Did You Practice?” week at random so the students are always surprised, but it works out to about once each month. My students know it is “Did You Practice?” day when they come into the studio and see the “Did You Practice?” sign sitting on the piano. If they have five days of practice recorded in their assignment notebooks, they receive a little prize — a pencil, homemade cookie, or mini chocolate bar, etc. It works especially well with my young students who ask me after three weeks if I’ve forgotten about the “yellow sign that is sometime on the piano.” ;)

  14. The studio where I teach has a raffle of sorts: Each week a student has met his/her practice goals for the week, they fill out an entry form. At the end of the month, one form is drawn from the bowl, and that student wins a gift card good for 2 movie tickets (one for them, one for a parent/guardian)! All those with at least one entry also get their name on the bulletin board for the month – one entry under “quarter notes,” two under “half notes” and so on. Of course, the prize options are endless, and students LOVE seeing their names on the board! This also allows each student’s goals to be individualized, with a set time or number of repetitions only for those who need more concrete goals.

  15. I motivate with stickers and dollar store prizes after they earn a certain amount of stickers! Very similar to your system! Would love to win one!

  16. My students just participated in a 15 day challenge incentive program. Students who practiced 15 days in a row entered their practice charts in a draw, and three names were chosen to earn a prize. Everyone who turned in a completed prize chart also got to pick a treat.

  17. For my younger students, I’ve found that having them record how many days they practiced helps. There’s a practice record that I use which looks like a gumball machine; for each day that they practice, they color in a gumball. If they color in five gumballs, then we will play a game of their choosing at the lesson. I have one student in particular with whom it has been extremely helpful: she went from rarely practicing to practicing five days a week all the time. It’s a treat to her just to color in the gumball, so she gets excited to practice piano. Every week she’s so proud to show me her gumball machine!

    In addition, I’ve been working through goals with my students, and these are a great motivator to practice: if they finish a goal, they get one or two points, and every student who has fifteen points by June will get to participate in a student-only recital followed by an ice-cream sundae party. If they have more than fifteen points, each extra point will be a topping for their ice cream. :)

  18. Recently to help them practice scales more regularly, I did an all star scales competition to see who could make it around the baseball field 1st by playing through scales around the circle of fifths (1st base cg 2nd base da etc. )Without getting 3 strikes (errors). It was very motivating for some students who had been “forgetting” to practice their technique skills.

  19. My students practice to earn composer bucks. Once they reach a certain amount, they get to “buy” the composer bust of their choice. Any money they earn after that they can use in my “store” (a bunch of things from the dollar store that kids love). The only requirement is that it’s at least 5 days that week and at least 15 minutes (sometimes more depending on the level).

  20. I have a prize bag that my students can pick a prize from if they practice 5 times a week. I also find that holding monthly Master Classes and a couple recitals each year motivates them to practice more.

  21. For me, I have found that if I don’t require a certain amount of time, the students will try to get away with 10-15 minutes of practice time. In my mind, this is NOT enough practice time for the vast majority of students. So I have a requirement of 30-minutes per day for 6 days a week, or 3 hours a week. More advanced students have a higher requirement, depending on level. I track all the practice hours and give prizes to the top practicers every year. The students also can earn prizes throughout the year for reaching certain goals.

  22. I’ve found that letting students and the parents know that practice multiple times throughout the day, even if its only for 5 minutes, is just fine. Somehow practicing in smaller time segments makes it more appealing and not quite as overwhelming, especially for beginner students.

  23. I don’t like to refer to it as practice time. I ask how their playing went for the week. I also encourage the use of a timer if they are struggling. Five minutes at a time if necessary 3 or 4 times a day works well for many who are struggling.

  24. I have done a practice jar that the students decorate themselves and then have filled with pom poms for the amount they practice each week. When they get their jar full they get a piano party and invite a friend over for a treat and piano games. They love it.

  25. I use a year-long incentive program that I put together over the summer and present to my students in the fall. This has worked extremely for all or most of my students. Occasionally during the long winter months, I will kick in a bit extra incentive through prizes or a double award with the incentive program, but I’ve found that the incentive, if done right, is really all they need!

  26. I give weekly stickers for achieving practice goals. Every 5 stickers earns a prize from the prize box.

  27. I try to make sure all of my students have one “just for fun” piece they are practicing. I also give weekly practice goals for each piece they are working on. I try to have them focus on meeting their goals, rather than practicing for a specific amount of time.

  28. asked student to keep track of practice time and let them know next lesson we’ll play the piece in duet

  29. I would love to try out this gadget on my own son, and then maybe on my students!
    I try to make a little incentive game when January comes around and no one is really into practicing. I use a homemade bingo card and the goal is to “blackout”. They are allowed to cross off up to 2 squares every week if they complete what each says. For example, practiced everyday this week; played a song with correct counting or dynamics, etc. Once they blackout, they can choose a prize. This usually helps for the mid-year blahs! Thanks Joy for the drawing.

  30. We try to use that little red Practice/Assignment booklet to keep track of their homework and how long they have practiced throughout the week, but most of my students forget to use it and have so many other things going on that I tell them that even little scraps of practice times is better than skipping altogether. I also ask them: what about practicing before school? Or while you’re waiting for mom to finish cooking dinner?

    I also tell them if they focus on 1-2 lines a day (and of course review the ones already mastered)…and truly master it, they will finish the pieces up so quickly, and it’s less intimidating!

    My students seem to be too old for stickers, but I’ve also tried prize incentives (a candy/fun erasers jar) for X amount of finished or memorized pieces.

  31. My students get a mini candy bar whenever all of their “practice boxes” are signed by their parents.

    This looks like a really cool tool!

  32. I use a Piano Points system, and my students can earn points each week. When they reach 25 points, they get to pick something out of my “piano basket.” From time to time I have specific competitions (sight reading, scales, etc.), and that seems to motivate the competitive students. I have also used a yearly practice incentive theme. For each goal achieved, they get a sticker, etc. At the end of the year, those who have completed all of the goals get to come to a piano party.

  33. My kids get stickers on an index card for each assigned piece they complete (an idea I got from reading this blog). When they get 25 stickers on their card, they get a prize from my prize box.

  34. Oh, yeah, forgot a practice tip. One of my favorite ways to practice is changing the rhythm of a passage up, to smooth it out, and eliminate gaps. We use, Long, short, Long or Short Long Short a lot, or even 3 in a row pause, or 4 in a row pause. It’s so much fun and relieves the boredom of just the same repetitions, that the student learns it fast.

  35. I am doing a spring practice challenge with my students. They each have a flower on my bulletin board and earn petals by practicing. Not an original idea of mine, but it seems to be working well because they all seem interested in seeing how well the others are doing. I think something that involves all hour students really keeps the enthusiasm up. I was considering a practice competition in the fall. Practice pal would make a great first prize!

  36. For our practice incentive:
    When a student has successfully completed 100 measures – I take a picture of them and cut it out to put on the music room wall . They are now a paper doll. 100 more measures will buy you clothes …. this year we are having a castle theme so the students can earn crowns or suits of armour ,magic wands or pets . Reaching your flashcard Note Naming goal earns ribbons to decorate your dress. Gluing new clothes etc on your paper self is great fun for each student … seeing how everyone else is progressing is great motivation.

  37. I use a point incentive program. Students are able to earn points by practicing a minimum of 4 days at 20 minutes a day. If they practice more than that they earn more points. They are also able to earn points for each page they pass in their books, knowing scales and chords, and for participating in extra activities – playing at the nursing home, participating in an area city contest, etc. Once they reach the 50 point mark they can select a prize from the prize basket which includes items from the dollar store, Michael’s dollar bin and $$ coupons for Dairy Queen, etc. I keep track of the points on index cards. I also recently did a competition to see who could come up with the most words using the musical alphabet. Students have to play their words on the keys and the student with the most words gets a $5.00 gift card to Orange Leaf. They all loved the competition and it helped re-inforce some of the basics of note names and location on the keyboard.
    Thanks for the wonderful ideas you have on your blog! The Practizpal is awesome!

  38. Once a year “practice-a-thon,” daily assignment sheet has check boxes for practice, set individual goals, reward good practicing on a random basis to keep a factor of surprise.

  39. To motivate students to practice, have them work on the actual trouble spot. Let them isolate the specific section and the actual measure where they slow down or stumble or stop. Then let them write the note name down in pencil, or the chord name, or maybe even the accidental (if it is sharp or flat or natural). Break that spot down into the easiest thing to practice, each hand alone, until it is smooth… Most of playing comfortably is getting the “feeling” of it in your hands until you can move through it easily and smoothly with no glitches. The rest of playing comfortably is knowing what you are playing either by sight or by ear or both (which is the strongest). A wise teacher said ‘practice makes permanent.’ So whatever you practice will become permanent. If you practice with glitches and wrong notes and stops, you will play permanently with glitches and wrong notes and stops. But if you practice steadily with smoothness, you will play steadily with smoothness.

  40. Just started a new practice reward system. Students get points for each lesson.
    Points are awarded for bringing all assigned lessons, Sight-reading and certain assigned songs. Also playing proficiently with regards to fingering and dynamics. (this is my tell-tell to see if they have practiced).
    The awards will be given at the Recital in November. It has helped and they get excited to see the points move up on a chart I created from the dollar store.

  41. Right now, I have a contest going on for my students that lasts for two months. Points are earned for different things accomplished, especially following my specific practice instructions for each song. The kids are really into the point system, and like to check my website a lot, where a list of everyone’s points is put up.

  42. I motivate them by giving them music and method books with fun songs in them and fun accompaniment tracks to play along with…Celebrate Piano all the way!

  43. I ask students to record the days they practice. And, parents need to sign off on their log that their child is prepared for the day’s lesson. In the past I’ve awarded my best practicers with a wrist band that says, “Star Student.”

  44. My students do a 100 days to play. When they have played (practiced) 100 days, I reward them with a $6-7 piano book of their choice. It becomes a race for some that have been in lessons a few years, wondering if they are among the first to receive their book. I do reset the goal number for those that need it and most students get one by the end of the school year. I’m thinking 88 may be a more fun number to use with a keyboard as a chart!

  45. In order to know my students will practise, I just make sure to do 3 things
    1. Play it for them
    2. Make sure they like the song
    3. Address the history and technical challenges so they know early on what is needed to play the piece!

    Seeing the goal and how to get there gives them a sense of how easy it is to play the piece and that is a great motivator to going to the piano to practise.

  46. I like to keep a sticker cup on the piano…if they have practiced their lesson or mastered a goal they may choose a sticker each day. This works well for younger students.

  47. I start a practice incentive program every August, which runs through the recital in December, with the winners receiving a composer bust and a pizza/movie party in my home. I then hold some other type of contest starting in January, which leads up to the recital in May. This year, I’ve been using Andrea & Trevor Dow’s “Shhhh … Your Piano Teacher Thinks This is Practice” sheets — and students will receive a bronze, silver or gold medal, based on how many of them they have completed. There are 88 in total, so we’ll carry that over until next year and I’ll give a statue to those who complete ALL of them. I would love the PractizPal to use as a special prize for the upcoming recital! (and … green is my favorite color!)

  48. I’ve decided to have a theme recital this year & practicing is up because they’re choosing something they really want to do

  49. I am using music money (Kjos) this semester (1st-8th grades) and to my happy surprise it’s working out great! Each week the students can earn up to $22 [$5 for the 5 goals for the week, $5 for parent signature; up to $7 for each day of practice, and $5 bonus for practicing 6 or 7 days]. At the end of the lesson I tally the points up = $ and write the amount down on a chart. At the end of the week I stuff their “wallets” (envelopes) with the money. At the end of the each month the students can trade the $ up for larger bills. At our last group lesson in May, the students will be able to go shopping!

  50. This is the first year I used a theme in my studio. My students all agreed that it was more fun and they practiced more. Our theme was “Join the Circus”. Every time students memorized a “circus” song, they received a “circus” ticket toward our grand prize. They could also earn tickets for practicing the required amount each week and for occasional homework assignments. It’s been a great year!

  51. I have noticed that recitals really help practice motivation for some kids, but not all of them. I also use a points system kind of like Joy’s and that helps my students realize that in order to receive points they not only need to “practice,” but practice to improve their assignments.

  52. I have been using the Musikopoly incentive program from Pianimation.com I love finding new ways to motivate students and am always on the look out!

  53. Composer Cash for prizes motivates my students to practice as well as various practice incentives throughout the year.

  54. I do require a minimum amount of practice time, 10-15 minutes for 1st and 2nd year students, gradually increasing to 30 min../day, 6 days a week. I have high school students, of course, that practice more. I try to give very specific practice instructions and award extra Bach bucks when they exceed their practice time goal. They are then able to “buy” prizes. My students would be thrilled to have such a cool practice tool!

  55. I get my students to build a routine (it’s easier than it sounds), so that they’ll know how to practice even if they’re on vacation or if I’m away (or, if they graduate). They’ll be able to fall back on this anytime, regardless whether someone’s there to ask them if they’ve practiced or not.

  56. I love this little Practizpal! In my teaching experience, I have always made sure my students understood to play through the piece 3 times, each time listening for places to make smoother the next time through. Beginning students take less time, so 15 minutes will be about right. As they advance, their pieces become longer and more involved. The 3 times rule still applies, but naturally, the practice time stretches to longer. (The listening part is harder for them to appreciate!) I also explain the difference to them about practicing, versus playing. They can play anytime they want, but practicing should be about progress.

  57. I have incorporated into my giveaway prizes, points if they complete their practice time as agreed upon. It has worked 100%. I let them decide how many days they can practice and if they meet the goal, verified by the parent, they get points.

  58. I love your site. Thank you for sharing. Also I tell my students to play the piano everyday. We are lucky to be able to play. Also I encourage them to play and practice ?all that I have assigned.

  59. Good morning, Joy!
    For my early-mid elementary kiddos I want them to establish good practice habits, but also want to acknowledge their need to know “are we there yet?”. I’ve found if I have them put a check mark in their assignment book for each time they play through all of their assignment, it puts things in a positive perspective. The goal is to have three check marks (per day) in their assignment book. But they can do more whenever they want. More often than not they have exceeded the three check marks and are proud of their progress, which translates in to a love of learning the next thing. I love watching that unfold in their eyes!

  60. My youngest students start at 5 years old and they have no problem getting their practice time in. Thanks to the good parents who also want them also to succeed. I think getting one of the practice pals add more fun to their practice sessions. it allows them to show off that they are committed to practicing. And with the older students who have never worked with a metronome even though most electronic keyboards come with one the practice pal will help them get there performance up to a comfortable speed. Yes I think it’s cute and who doesn’t like keeping up with new gadgets and technology….I might get a few just for the fun of it and have them as prizes for our next recital.

  61. Our studio periodically uses “music money” as an incentive. Students are awarded $1 for every minute practiced and buy something from our “store” at the end of the allotted time. This semester we are encouraging sight reading by awarding for each line sight read during they week!

  62. My students earn points for every 10 practice minutes with bonus points for 5 or 6 days/week of practice. Points can be traded in for items in the “goodie” basket the first week of the new month.

  63. We have daily practice charts and students with highest number of minutes get monthly prizes…

    For my young ones, it’s hard to beat students with daily 40 – 60 min practice so I’ve been giving them incentive charts versus minutes.

    Thanks Joy !!

  64. After reading Alfie Kohn’s Punished by Rewards, I try not to use incentives like prizes for practice. While they’re effective at getting the student to do what I want (practice) there are also unintended consequences. I try to be clear on what my students’ goals are, and be clear with my students that practice is their access to accomplishing their musical goals.

  65. Thanks, good informative article about practizpal!!! I copied and glued a monthly calendar to the back of their assignment notebooks, where they record their time practiced on the days they practice, at the end of a month they see a clear picture of when they practiced, and which days they missed; as a parent of 4 musical students, my husband and I give them a dollar for every hour of practice + we check what they have learned that day, if any of them played an hour but didn’t work on assignment, it was time wasted, but we get to a point where they collect so much money from us, I encourage them to give tenth to God ( Church), and being honest to value time, also to collect money,and resist temptation to spend them at Target, or other stores, each of them have specific goal what they collecting money for. I Can’t wait when they love music to the point when I would have to say:« you have played enough for today, get some rest!!! :-) :-) :-) »

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