When I was in Kindergarten I distinctly remember pining to be in Grade 1. Why? Because the Grade 1 kids got to participate in Sports Day… with real sports like the 100 yard dash and the long jump, not “baby games” like the egg and spoon race.
When I was in Grade 1, I longed for the day that I would be in Grade 2. The Grade 2 students got to raise salmon in a cool fish aquarium in their classroom.
When I was in Grade 2, I couldn’t wait to be in Grade 3. The Grade 3 students got to participate in Pioneer Week… where they dressed up in old-fashioned clothes, played old-fashioned games, and learned from a very strict (but quite humorous) old-fashioned teacher.
This pattern continued throughout my childhood (and maybe even into “the now”) with every year bringing something cooler than the past. And it occurred to me, that my own pattern of anticipation could be the key to successfully retaining piano students year over year.
I feel old when i say this but here it goes anyway… it seems kids these days have lost the ancient art of Anticipation Enjoyment. Instead, many get what they want, when they want it. And then they’re left with a great big… feeling of emptiness.
What kids, and many parents, don’t realize is that deep down they want and need something to look forward to. Anticipation is the sidekick to motivation, and realizing this can mean great things for your piano studio.
Your Piano Studio’s Anticipation Action Plan
An Anticipation Action Plan is easy to create if you remember one thing… all of your piano students do not need to be participating in all of you studio events all of the time. Your younger students need things in the near AND distant future to look forward to, and your older students need feelings of success and pride when they have reached anticipated milestones.
In its simplest form, an Anticipation Action Plan simply lays out one new and exciting thing your piano students get to do as they progress year over year.
The first year is pretty simple and should focus on your regular lesson structure. The motivation in year one is generally running high anyway.
In year two, consider offering something exciting like a CD Recording Month that only kids in Year Two get to be a part of. In Year Three, when piano students are usually becoming quite polished players, invite them to participate in monthly coffee shop gigs that have an exciting, laid-back and cool atmosphere. In Year Four, start taking your older piano students on field trips to musicals, symphonies and operas.
Obviously the list goes on and on, and the above activities are just a small sampling, but the underlying idea is to always have something concrete in the future that your piano students can look forward to and then be proud of when the future arrives.
Not only is the Anticipation Action Plan great for student motivation and retention but you’ll also discover that it becomes a real community builder. So, grab a pen and some paper, write out years 1 through 7 (or 77!) and brainstorm some cool ideas to introduce with the arrival of each new year.
Looking For A Year Two or Year Three Idea?
Teaching your kids to compose their own music is hugely motivating and definitely something that your young piano students will look forward to. If this sounds like a great Year Two or Year Three piano activity, check out our composing resource The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff.