Do you give out awards to your students for various achievements from the past year?
Would you like to do more awards but aren’t really sure what to do besides recognizing student achievements in festivals and competitions?
Do you struggle to implement or track something like this with any kind of consistency?
This post is going to look at a few types of awards that can be integrated into your studio’s awards program, as well as how to track everything by creating a simple “policies and procedures manual” of your own.
Types of Awards
There are a few different types of awards I give annually at the recital.
MTNA Music Study Award
Awards don’t always have to be about celebrating achievements; they can also serve as a time to celebrate a student’s ongoing commitment to music study, which is why I love MTNA’s Music Study Award.
Please note that you have to be a member of MTNA to have access to this award.
They have a free certificate available for download signed by the current MTNA President and the Executive Director and C.E.O.
The PDF is editable so you can easily type in your student’s name and print it.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t print the purple color on your forms!
For the first few years, I printed them on heavy white cardstock but recently have been using heavy certificate paper so they look a little nicer.
Important points to note:
- It can be a bit tricky to find these awards on the MTNA website, so I’ve included a screenshot (updated as of 4/2021). You will need to be logged in using your member information in order to access these pages.
[Click on the photo to enlarge]
- If you are using a certificate paper that has a large border on it, you will need to scale down the print area. Here’s a 2-minute tutorial to show you how.
Any students who participated in events outside the studio throughout the year are given their ribbons and certificates at the recital.
For example, if I have any students participate in our state’s Achievement in Music Festival in March, they are given their certificate and medal on the day of the event, but the theory ribbon is distributed to teachers after the event.
It’s nice to have something physical to hand to students when recognizing their participation in the event during the recital award time.
Each year all students are required to participate in the One-Minute Club Note-Naming Challenge. The winner of each level is given a $5 gift card to Walmart and the overall winner (the fastest time for level 5) is given a $15 gift card. These are all announced at the recital.
A couple of other programs I’ve used in the past that are good to include in your end-of-year awards time:
Clavier’s Piano Explorer Practice Challenge
Piano Explorer Magazine has a Practice Challenge that students can complete, working toward 100, 200, or 300 days of practice (or more). Students who achieve this get their names listed in the magazine and teachers can print a special certificate available on their website.
MTNA Music Achievement Award Program
The Music Achievement Award Program is another one offered to members of MTNA and can be found in the same area of the Members Only site as the Music Study Award shown above.
Students have to complete several outside musical tasks such as writing a report on a composer, composing pieces, and more. They have a huge array of things to choose from and MTNA has an implementation pack to help you get started.
Students who completed this program received a small plaque at the recital that says “Music Achievement Award,” (purchased from Music in Motion). I also took those students to a professional performances such as a concert with the Philharmonic. Due to the expense of the awards that I give for this program, I do charge a small fee for students who enroll.
I offered this (optional) opportunity to my students for several years but in my effort to reduce activities and simplify, have not offered it in a while.
Design A Policies And Procedures Manual
Once you determine the types of awards you want to incorporate, set aside some time to formally write up the program (for your own reference) so it’s concrete and consistent from year to year.
Here are several items to consider including in the manual:
1 – A list of the awards you give annually including any requirements.
Here’s mine as an example:
MTNA Music Study Award (awarded for total years in piano lessons)
Participation Award (less than 25 lessons)
Year 1 – Certificate (25 lessons minimum)*
Year 2 – Certificate + Lapel Pin
Year 3 – Certificate
Year 4 – Certificate + Lapel Pin
Year 5 – Certificate
Year 6 – Certificate + 5” Trophy
Year 7 – Certificate
Year 8 – Certificate + 7” Trophy + Legacy Inductee**
Year 9 – Certificate
Year 10 – Certificate + 11 ½” Trophy
*If preschool students participate in recital they receive a participation award and/or the certificate from Wunderkeys for completion.
**Students who study at Studio 88 for 8 years will be given the legacy award and their names placed on a plaque in the studio.
2 – Links to the exact item(s) that you purchase for each award.
For consistency, give the same awards every year. This is also a way to build excitement for students. Imagine a 2-year student seeing a student who has been studying for 6 or 8 years receive a large trophy.
I recently witnessed a 5-year student commenting to another student that they’re staying in lessons at least until they receive the “Legacy Award” (8 years) if not longer (see below for details on the legacy award).
Here’s what mine looks like:
3 – Notes and reminders regarding engraving or anything else you may want to remember from year to year.
It was important to me that the wording and formatting of my engraving were the same from year to year so I keep a few notes regarding those kinds of details.
For example, do have the names engraved in all caps or just uppercase the first letter? Do you put the year the award was received on the plaque or trophy or X number of years of study, or a date such as 2015-2020, etc.?
4 – A list of students by name and their years of study.
Keeping this list from year to year will be a big time saver. Each year I simply copy and paste the listing onto a fresh sheet, shift everyone’s names down a year, and remove those who are no longer students. This process takes about 10 minutes!
If I have any transfer students who will be receiving an award for the first time in my studio, I make sure I confirm with the parents exactly how long they took lessons prior to coming to me and ensure the parent is in agreement with the years of study I will be awarding their student.
4/21/202 – To see more specifics on the trophies I give as well as a list of my awards updates, check out this post:
3/31/2021 – If you’re just now starting an awards program, do you wonder if you should play “catch up?”