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I am constantly trying to come up with new ideas to encourage my children to practice on a regular basis. My mom, a piano teacher who frequently awards her students with money or stuffed animals, believes that parents actually end up saving money if they reward their children for their accomplishments. If a student comes to a lesson unprepared, the lesson time becomes a practice time. The student ends up receiving little or no instruction from the teacher, and the parent still has to pay for the "lesson". This is not only frustrating for teachers who value their time with their students, it is also money that can be better spent elsewhere.
The reward does not need to be large or expensive. If you add up all the money you would have saved for all the lessons that your child was unprepared for, it is really a significant amount.
I have tried many different methods to make our practice regimen as peaceful an event as possible. So far I have found my Practice Reward Program to work very well. It would be helpful if you print out a copy (I use color paper so that it stands out) of my Practice Chart as I explain how the program works.
Piano Practice Reward Program: The chart is set up for two months of practice. I feel that my children should practice a minimum of 30 minutes a day, hence seven squares before the "bar". My goal is that they practice an average of one hour a day, therefore the table goes up to seven hours. The reward does not kick in until they accumulate more than four hours for that week.
You may want to adjust the amount of practice time based on your child's age and level. I also allow Music Theory as part of the program, something that promotes their piano study. You can also use similar ideas to encourage children to memorize a repertoire; my mom pays her students $1 and they feel so accomplished!
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