When I was a piano student, a check mark was as good as a sticker. Stickers were reserved for extra special occasions… because back then (yipes!) stickers were expensive! I worked really hard on my piano pieces each week to earn that check mark. My teacher wrote with a black pen, and her check marks were huge.
I loved them.
Because it meant I never had to play that piece again.
As we often do as piano teachers, many of my old piano teacher’s habits carried over into my own teaching. I too would bestow a check mark on the tops of my students pieces that I deemed “complete”. They loved them too. (But they also expected a sticker ;))
This year my personal goal has been to have all of my students be able to play any of the pieces they have learned this year at any time. They each have a list in their binder of completed pieces. These are the pieces that anyone can ask them to play, and they are able to do so without hesitation.
But this goal has been easier said than done. And I realized that my check marks were working against me.
Check marks mean “Finished!”… “Complete!”… “Done!”… “Never play me again!”… Essentially the opposite of what I am hoping to instill in my students.
What To Do Instead?
So instead, I’m writing POP! on the top of my piano students’ pages. Instead of the satisfaction of getting a sticker and checking off their piece, they get to celebrate with a few go’s at a piece of bubble wrap. I have an odd mind. But there’s a method to my madness.
POP stands for Play Often Please! My students think it’s funny; I think it’s going to change the way they view their “completed” piano pieces. Now that nothing is ever “checked-off” their piano books will become a book of pieces they know, rather than a book of pieces they used to know.
I’m excited to have a studio full of piano students who can play any of their pieces at the drop of a hat. My piano students are excited about the bubble wrap. Win win 🙂