On March 12, 2020, I wrote a post called Implementing Incentives: The Struggle
Is Was Real where I shared my struggle with implementing incentive programs in my studio.
I had intended to follow up that post immediately with a second one sharing what I had ultimately found as a super simple and successful solution to implementing an incentive, more specifics on the program, and a list of popular prize box items, and some free downloads from my own programs.
Then COVID-19 hit.
Suddenly, all we could think about was how to transform our studios overnight to online instruction.
The need for hearing about an in-person incentive program and physical prize boxes suddenly felt completely useless at the time, so I decided to put the post on hold in order to do my part to help which included these posts:
A Simple (and Free) Video Supplement to Support Your Online Teaching
Musings on Keeping a Positive Perspective During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Save Time and Money Taking Online Payments with Coinhop
10 Products to Make Your Online Teaching More Comfortable
Healthy Snacks for Long Teaching Days
I haven’t forgotten you though, and so here I am, back on the topic of incentives in the studio!
Each of our situations looks quite different at the moment in our studios with some remaining online, others going back to in-person or some version thereof, and some having to close down their businesses (our hearts go out to you!)
Before we dive in, if you didn’t catch the first post, be sure and read it first!
Implementing Incentives: The Struggle
Is Was Real
My “Winning” Incentive Program
All in all, my struggles with implementing an incentive program helped me realize what I really needed out of a program. It had to be:
- Easy to implement
- Work for all ages
Not only that, but the program I ultimately landed on also gives students a bonus life skill.
What is it?
A while back I wrote an article for Alfred Music Blog called Learning Music in a Quick-Fix Society: 7 Tips to Foster Music for Life. In the article, I share seven ways we can help create an environment that fosters the mindset that learning music is more than just a short-term activity.
One of those seven items was that, as teachers, we shouldn’t feel frustrated when students come to lessons either without their books or having made little progress. (Of course, if it’s an ongoing issue, that another story.)
It can be very easy to get irritated at students and in turn, have the lesson take on a sour note and be a negative experience. On the other hand, if we keep in mind that life happens and music lessons are an ongoing commitment, we can look at it as an opportunity rather than a failure.
Here are 12 ways we can turn a potentially negative, frustrating lesson into a positive musical experience. You don’t even have to pick just one! Set a timer and tell the student every 5 minutes you’re going to switch activities!
Are your students feeling the summer practice blues? I just wrote an article for the Alfred Music Blog on motivating students to practice – check it out!
4 Ways to Motivate Students: Banishing the Summer Practice Blues
At the first lesson in August every year, my students are asked to fill out a practice schedule card and return to me the following week. It’s quite simple. I tell them this is an exercise in thinking through their day and the time they’ve been given to use wisely. It’s not that it has to be set in stone or that it can’t change, it’s simply good practice to go through the act of writing out their weekly schedule.
All my students are expected to fill out the card – whether they’re in the 1st grade or a senior in high school.
I was inspired by a similar card we were given in college that mapped out the day in 30-minute increments. I lived by that card found it to be very beneficial.
Why not use it for my piano students?
Page one is a blank schedule for them to fill out and page two is an example. The first year we did this, I was getting enough “how do you want me to fill this out?” questions I figured an example was in order for the next year. While they’re told to fill it out however they want – it’s for their benefit – they still seem to need a more concrete example.
Printing on card stock works well. Print the blank page on one side and the example on the other.
Of course, there are always one or two students who never turn it in. Some bring them back colorful and others quite sparse. They’ve been hanging on my bulletin board for six weeks. I just took them down and plan on bringing them back out in January to talk to the students about their initial plans and see if they’ve stuck with it or if they need to re-think their practice time.
The first year the schedule only went from 9 am-8 pm, but when I realized some students practiced before school, it got expanded from 6 am-9 pm.