In a perfect world, we would all have self-motivated learners who embrace challenges. But the world isn’t perfect (just ask Trevor, who cracked a rib playing hockey on Thursday night and then proceeded to welcome his seasonal allergies on Friday with a 16 hour long sneezing fit).
And so, in our not-so-perfect world, it is crucial that we teach our piano students how to set and achieve goals. The satisfaction of reaching self-made goals is more rewarding than any incentive, prize or praise and therefore is a very effective way of encouraging piano students’ progress.
Some kids learn to set goals easily… but others take more time. Today I wanted to share with you a fun visual activity for helping kids set and achieve piano-related goals.
A Green-Thumb Goal Setting
When attempting to find a really fun and visual way to teach goal setting, my mind drifted to my budding garden outside… and then my mind drifted back to piano… and then from that “mind-drifiting combo” emerged the following actiivity…
Introducing Goal Setting With “Beat The Bean”. What is Beat the Bean? Read on!
For “Beat The Bean” you’ll need:
- A Scarlet Runner Bean Seed Package
- One ziploc baggie per participating student
- A sharpie marker
- Paper Towel
Each student chooses a piano goal that he or she would like to reach in the near future. Examples of goals could be “Memorize my recital piece“ or “Be able to start playing from any point in my piece” or “Learn four new harmonic minor scales”. It is important that the goal is selected by your student and that it is a goal that is realistically reachable within a two week period.
Next, each student writes her chosen goal and her name on the front of the ziploc bag using the sharpie marker. Moisten the paper towel with water (should be just damp, not soggy), fold it so it will fit into the bottom of the bag and place it inside the baggy. Insert the Scarlet Runner Bean seed inside the fold of the moist paper towel and seal the bag.
Place the “Beat The Bean” baggie in a highly visible place in your studio… a location with lots of natural light (such as taping them to a window) is the best option.
Your student’s task now is to reach her goal before the bean sprouts its very first fully-open leaf…. thus “beating the bean”!
Other Ways To Have Fun With “Beat The Bean”
1. Visual activities like this are pure gold for social media sharing – post updated pictures of the slowly sprouting bean seeds of each child. Email pics to parents with little “Bean Mail” messages such as “Dear Sarah… I sprouted today… how are those scales coming along? Sincerely Bean.” Really embracing this event and theming your social media sharing and communication around it will breathe a lot of life and fun into your studio.
2. Once the leaves have sprouted, you can continue the fun by setting new goals per each leaf (learn one new scale for every new leaf) or by length of the bean vine (learn one new piece per every inch the bean grows). You’ll need to transfer the beans to a paper cup with dirt to continue the growth.
3. Having a “I Beat The Bean” club for students who reached their goal before the first leaf appeared is also a great incentive for students. You can also use my “Beat The Bean” Certificates here.
Beat The Bean is Memorable and Fun
Learning to set goals is an important skill, and with Beat The Bean your students will create a vivid and pleasant memory of a) setting a goal and b) working diligently to reach that goal. So go out and grab these very inexpensive materials and get set to ask your students “Will you beat the bean?”