Like many teachers, at my studio’s spring recital, I hand out awards to recognize not only student achievements but their commitment to piano year after year. Team sports do it, so can we!
A colleague of mine who has a new and quickly growing studio, recently posted in a Facebook group asking how in the world teachers with large studios kept track of everything – especially when it came to recitals. Well, my friend, this post is for you as I’m about to share not only the various awards that I give from year to year but how I organize and track everything.
The year I opened my studio, I sat down and devised my system. Consistency from year to year was important, and I didn’t want to re-invent the wheel each spring researching and trying to remember where I purchased awards and such. The best way I knew to do that was to write up a document similar to what most organizations call a “Policies and Procedures Manual.” Now, this isn’t a formal written-in-prose manual; it’s more of an informational reference guide.
Keep it for reference, use the same system, or use it as a guide to devise your system. Whatever you do, be consistent from year to year.
Besides my little manual, I keep a listing of students and their years of study. The next year, I copy and paste the page, rename for the current year, and cut and paste the students, shifting them down a year. It takes about 10 minutes. If I have transfer students, I text the parents to confirm exactly how long they studied lessons before me and that they agree with the years of study I will be awarding.
To help keep track of your students, I made a basic template of the document I use. It’s in MS Word format so you can make changes as needed!
There are several different awards I give at the recital.
MTNA Music Study Award
All students receive a certificate for years of study. Music Teachers National Association offers members in the “members-only” section of their site, access to several different award programs that teachers can implement. They have a free certificate available for download signed by the current MTNA President and the Executive Director and C.E.O. The certificate is a fill-in form template that allows you to type in each student’s name. I print them on heavy white cardstock. You could also use special document paper.
Update (May 11, 2016): It’s a bit tricky to find the certificate on the MTNA website. After you log in to “Members-Only”, click on “Music for Everyone,” then both the Music Study Award Program and Music Achievement Award Programs I use are there.
Every two years students receive a “bonus” item besides the certificate. At years two and four, they get a small lapel pin and for years six, eight, and ten they receive a trophy – progressively larger each year.
When it comes to years of study, I am also going to start implementing a legacy award, which I learned about from a friend and colleague. All students who study (with me) for eight years will have their name added to a plaque on the studio wall. I’ve only been in business for five full years at the time of this post, so it will be a few years before anything happens with that, but I love the idea, thanks, Christina!
Clavier’s Piano Explorer Practice Challenge
This year I decided to offer my students the (optional) opportunity to do Piano Explorer Magazine’s Practice Challenge. Students who complete any level of the challenge (100, 200, 300 days practice, etc.) will get a certificate (available on their website). They also get their name listed in the Clavier Companion magazine.
Any students who participate in outside events throughout the year are given their ribbons and certificates at the recital. For example, I had students participate in our state’s Achievement in Music Festival in March. They were given their certificate and medal the day of, but the theory ribbon is distributed to teachers after the event is over. I announce the student’s participation, and it’s nice to have their ribbons to give to them at that time.
Several students also participate in our state’s OPUS Composition Festival. They return the comments and ribbons in late April, so I wait and hand out certificates and ribbons at the recital.
I realize this delays students in getting their awards. However, I not only like having a formal award time but I think it’s important for students to see what’s possible for those who go above and beyond.
MTNA Music Achievement Award Program
Another member program offered by MTNA. I did this for several years and in my effort to keep things simple and reduce activities, I did not offer it the last couple years. I may start offering it again because it was a good program but when I do, it is optional. Students have to complete several outside musical tasks such as writing composer reports, composing pieces, and more. I give them a huge array of things to choose from and MTNA has an implementation pack to help you get started. Students who complete this get a small plaque at the recital that says “Music Achievement Award,” and I take them to a professional performance such as the Philharmonic. (I do charge a small fee for them to enroll in this program because of the high cost of the award).
Thanks to the comments of a reader after my initial publication of this post, I completely forgot about my One-Minute Club. (So this paragraph is an added edit).
Each year all students are required to participate in the One-Minute Club Challenge made popular (I thin) by Susan Paradis. The winner with the fastest time is announced at the recital. In the past, I had just one winner but decided this year I’m going to have a winner for elementary grades K-6 a winner for grades 7-12. Each winner receives a $10 gift card to a store/restaurant of their choice.
I’ve thought about giving out other awards like top memorizer, etc. but haven’t done so yet. If you’ve ever heard of Phillip Johnston’s The Practice Revolution, it’s chock-full of ideas for unique awards.
What kind of awards do you give?