Young piano students respond well to goal-setting. When they have a concrete target to work towards they are more likely to participate in regular and purposeful home practice. And while I aspire to encourage piano practice simply “for the love of music”, my students need regular boosts as they build the skills required to play repertoire that they find motivating.
These “boosts” usually come in the form of rewards. When my piano students achieve their goals, it’s fun to celebrate their progress with something special. Sometimes, however, celebratory piano lesson rewards get a “bad rap” as they’re commonly associated with a “prize”. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
Today we’re sharing 15 ideas you can use to celebrate your piano students’ success… without using stickers or candy.
15 Unique Ways To Celebrate Your Piano Students’ Efforts
If you need to motivate your piano students to work towards learning goals, pick a reward from the list below. Your students will delight in working towards meaningful celebrations of their efforts. And the best part? Not only are these “prizes” motivating for young piano students, but they also contribute to the goal of making music itself the ultimate reward!
1. A Coveted Piece
Every piano studio has “that piece”… it’s the one that your piano students hear their friends perform at your recital and then beg you to play, or the one that they’ve heard on the radio, or the one that their friend from school played in the talent show. Working towards a beloved piece is an exciting way to encourage practice and skills acquisition.
2. Your Studio Mascot
We shared our Studio Mascot Practice Buddy several years ago and studios around the globe are still loving and using their practice mascots! Offering the opportunity to take home your studio mascot as a reward is a great way to pump up the enthusiasm for your studio mascot program. It’s also a great way to keep practice on the right track after reaching goals and working towards new ones.
3. A Spot On Your “Brag Wall”
Having a “Brag Wall” in your waiting area is a fabulous way to share your students’ successes. For an easy way to implement a Brag Wall, select four categories (for example, “This Week’s Practice Stars”, “This Week’s Theory Champs”, “This Week’s Creative Composers” etc.) and create headings for each. Next, take photos of your piano students and post their photos under the appropriate heading when goals are met.
4. A Special Video Recording
Kids love to see themselves on video, so offer the opportunity to create a “mini-documentary” of your student that explains what he achieved and how he reached his goal. The video can end with a demonstration or his newly-squired skills. Share the video with parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends! Always obtain parental consent before taking any videos or photographs of your students.
5. An Invitation To A Piano Party
While you may already incorporate group lessons or piano parties into your schedule, consider hosting a special party for students who have reached certain goals. This is a great way to increase enthusiasm in your studio. Select an educational party theme that your piano students will find exciting to pump-up the prestige factor 🙂
6. A Package of Practice Tools
If you use teaching tools in your studio that your students love (ie. mini erasers, our practice pegs, toy animals, etc.) offer a small “practice package” of these teaching tools as a reward for students who have achieved their goals.
7. An Invitation To A Studio Outing
Exposing your piano students to live music is a great motivator in and of itself, but when the chance to be part of a select number of students headed to a live music event is offered, you double-up on the motivation factor! Seek out an inexpensive and family-friendly live music event and offer students who meet their goals the opportunity to come on a field trip.
8. A Take-Home Piano Game
Many teachers have set up a game-lending library in their studios, but if you haven’t done so yet, consider offering a “take-home piano game” as a reward for a job well done. Students love the chance to include Mom, Dad, and siblings as at-home game opponents, and teachers love getting families involved in home practice!
A membership to PianoGameClub makes “take-home games” easy! All of our games are studio-licensed, meaning you can print as many copies as you like! Plus, 4 brand new games every month means you’ll always have a new game ready to excite your students.
9. Duets and Partner Lessons
Collaborating with a friend to learn a duet is one of the most enjoyable experiences you can give your piano students. Offer your goal-achievers the opportunity to take part in partner lessons in preparation for a duet performance. Attending lessons “with a buddy” is exciting and fun and gives your students the skills they need to collaborate with other musicians.
10. Recognition On Your Studio’s Social Media Pages
A great deal of excitement can be generated by recognizing your piano students in a special way on Instagram and/or Facebook studio pages. Create a shareable image by photoshopping a simple “Congratulations!” graphic over student photos or have your students hold one of our studio props and then snap a picture to share. Share the images only after parental consent has been confirmed.
11. The Power To Choose
If you have piano students who absolutely love certain aspects of their piano lessons, then offering them the opportunity to pick the lesson format for one week is often one of the greatest rewards you can offer! Give them complete control over what activities are included, how long you spend on each one, and the order in which the activities occur.
12. Participation in a Studio-Wide Event
Young children love small changes in routine, so hosting a studio-wide event that is easy, silly and fun is a great way to motivate your students. For example, goal achievers might be invited to wear their pajamas to lessons during “Pajama Week”, or colorful socks to lessons during “Crazy Sock Week”.
13. Piano Parent Participation
Offering your piano students the chance to invite Mom or Dad for a “partner lesson” is a great way for your piano students to share their pride in their accomplishments. Have your students and parents play simple improv duets or piano games and then allow Mom or Dad the opportunity to sit back and enjoy a mini-concert of their child’s latest accomplishments.
14. A Swap in Roles
Your piano students will delight in the opportunity to “be the teacher” for a lesson. They get to sit in your chair, direct the lesson activities, correct you when required, choose the piano game you’ll play, or teach you a new piece. This is not only great fun but also a powerful “learn by teaching” tool.
What About Number Fifteen?
For our last idea, we want to hear from all of you wonderfully-creative teachers out there. What do you use in your piano studio to reward piano student achievements? Share in the comments below.