Every summer, my students are encouraged to go for The Summer Practice Challenge. Why? I started it a few summers ago because I thought it would be a fun way for students to get a prize and it would encourage them to avoid being lazy with their instrument. Being lazy in the summer time is very tempting with no school, hot weather and other fun activities that they are doing. But The Summer Practice Challenge has been a success, more and more parents are telling me how it's motivating their children.
How does it work? The student needs to be able to play everything I give them on their practice chart 20 days in a row. If they do not skip a day and get 20 days they get their prize, or they may go for 40 days to get a bigger prize, or if they get 40 days, they can go for 60 days for the biggest prize!
The Good news: 1. the prize is something the student likes, 2. the student may start the challenge any time they want before the 1st day of school, and 3. they may re-start the challenge as many times as they want. As you can see the point is to motivate the student to keep trying.
1. Motivates students to practice (they want to push for the prize).
2. Challenges the student's and the parent’s integrity to be honest (will they cheat?).
3. Teaches the student consistency and discipline to practice even when you do not feel like it.
4. It teaches students to set goals and have fun at the same time.
5. The student will learn to take responsibility to complete his or her goal.
6. Parents will not have to push their child very hard to practice.
In the end it is the attitude of the teacher and the parent that will influence the student on how to approach The Summer Practice Challenge. Parents, out of good intentions, have pushed their child so hard that the student shuts down and they do not want to do the challenge. I encourage teachers and parents, to make this optional to their students as it will "put the ball in their court." You might be surprised what happens when you give them the responsibility. Let the challenge begin!