I always feel like students need a little extra push after Christmas break. The spring semester is longer, and there are less breaks. When the school year starts kids are excited for new things. January, February, March can drag on. At the beginning of this year I started brainstorming ideas for what I could do to provide that little extra motivation my students needed. So, I came up with the 6 week challenge. The premise is simple, kids receive a new challenge every week and if they complete they challenge they get a prize. I wanted the challenges to have some variety. To bring out the strengths in some students, and to stretch others to try new things. So here’s the six challenges I came up with:
- Memorize a piece.
- Practice 5 days (with parent verification!).
- Learn a new piece on your own.
- Listen to a piece of music with piano in it and complete a listening worksheet.
- Compose a piece of music (notation not necessary, just be able to play it for your teacher).
- Perform for a family member or friend.
My students were excited each week to learn what the next week’s challenge would be. No spoilers, I didn’t tell them what they would be ahead of time! I was also surprised to see which students enjoyed which tasks. Some of my younger students jumped on the composition idea and came up with great things! The open ended-ness on the listening challenge was interesting to me too. Some listened to Mozart or Satie, others found pop songs with piano. Week 6 was conveniently timed to be just a week before our recitals :). I loved the flexibility and variety that these challenges brought into the studio.
We’re giving you the PDF files of all of the challenge cards for free download today! I printed each week on a different color paper so I could sort them out easily. After cutting them out I simply stapled or taped the challenge card to that week’s assignment page, or the front of their books. I got great feedback from parents on these challenges and the kids loved extra chances to earn prizes. If you try this in your studio let me know how it goes!
Spring Seals, NCTM, teaches 60 piano students ranging from age 3 to 70 in Fort Worth, Texas. She also serves as the Director of Certification for TMTA. She is passionate about helping teachers become more effective in their studios through professional development, new resources, and fresh ideas.