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Friday, November 21, 2014

Need your orchestra to practice? Be creative!

I have written quite a few posts about various things I do to motivate students to practice.  During my parent meeting before school starts, I ask parents to support their student by allowing them to practice and by providing their child with quality instruments.  I feel it is really my job to get students to practice...not as much the parent's job.  This is because I have 5 kids of my own and 3 of them are currently taking music lessons.  Much of the time, I basically force my kids to practice.  It can be a struggle on some days and my kids don't necessarily love to play their instruments when I am forcing them to play.  That all changes when my kids are working on a piece of music they particularly love...or if they are working towards a goal...or if I work with them to make practicing fun.  My ultimate goal, of course, is for my students and my own children to be self-motivated.

In order to motivate my classes to practice, I am very careful to select music that I know my students will want to practice.  I often challenge my class to practice certain passages and have contests to see how many times students play a particular passage by having them make a tally sheet...the student who does the most gets a small candy or prize.  I show them a short motivational type video every Monday that I call "Video of the Week."  This week I will be showing a little clip from the movie Despicable Me 2 - where Agnes recites a poem and sounds like a robot.  I will relate this to my class by teaching them about dynamics and to help students understand that playing music with no feeling and no dynamics is like Agnes's poem...not interesting.  We will focus on adding dynamics and passion into our pieces throughout the week.

Throughout the year, I do a few different practicing contests/games.

My next concert for my students is in just a couple of weeks and I need all of them to be practicing so that we will be ready! I just started a little practicing raffle activity in order to motivate my students.  So far, I've been loving it!

I bought a roll of raffle tickets from  Then, I made this little practice sheet:

Students earn tickets based on the requirements on the practice sheet.  Students also earn tickets by earning a perfect score of their playing tests, or by demonstrating excellent focus and improvement during class.

At the end of the term, I will be holding a raffle where students can earn some great prizes.  I bought some remote control shark balloons from (those are the grand prizes) and some other cheaper prizes from

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