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Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
#2498945 01/10/16 03:46 PM
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Hi everyone, I have come up with this new system of using "piano dollars" to earn points for my students. For instance, when they practice at least four times that week, I give them 5 dollars. If they perform, I give them 20 or if they learn a piece on their own I give them 10. At the upcoming recital, whoever has the most piano dollars wins pianist of the year trophy (with there being three different age groups so three different trophies).

It is inspiring my students to practice and do many more ambitious things at the piano but I worry that they focus on earning the money too much. Every lesson, they count how much they have and ask how much other students have, which I don't want to tell them because I want the winners to be a surprise.

I am mostly afraid that when the recital comes along, those who didn't win will be extremely disappointed, maybe so much that it might discourage them from continuing to play.

Please let me know know what you think of this reward system! Thanks!

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Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
DagnyTaggart83 #2498952 01/10/16 04:25 PM
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I think it's a bad idea from a psychological perspective. In psychology, we distinguish between internal and external motivation. Piano students are usually internally motivated (i.e., they want to learn and practice). When you now add external motivation, it tends to increase motivation, which is what you are looking for, but in the long run it replaces the internal motivation. Hence, once your dollar incentives are removed, these students might no longer be internally motivated to practice.

Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
rollsomedice #2498967 01/10/16 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by rollsomedice
I think it's a bad idea from a psychological perspective. In psychology, we distinguish between internal and external motivation. Piano students are usually internally motivated (i.e., they want to learn and practice). When you now add external motivation, it tends to increase motivation, which is what you are looking for, but in the long run it replaces the internal motivation. Hence, once your dollar incentives are removed, these students might no longer be internally motivated to practice.


I agree it is not a good idea however haven't you already set the precedent by starting the PianoBucks promo, and telling them trophies will be awarded? These students now have a prize expectation.

If you do give trophies, which I don't see how you can now avoid, I would not engrave them with anything that implies excellence such as Pianist of the Year, but make them specific to high PianoBucks winner, and maybe add a small piano-related item such as new music, practice diary, dictionary, etc.

If you have not announced trophies, I would issue certificates and a music-related item. Don't see how you can avoid a prize.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
DagnyTaggart83 #2499038 01/10/16 10:04 PM
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I think it's a bad idea. It gives people funny ideas about what "Art" and "Music" are really all about. Also, it's going to create some false expectations in both the students and parents about who is going to "win", already a dubious and entirely subjective notion. Only one person can "win" at a time, so there are going to be lots and lots of "losers", and they'll each think they "lost" for the wrong and very individual reasons. Also, a person can "win" that trophy as you describe it while performing very badly or woodenly at the recital. That is not something you should want to encourage.

You really want to set up that dynamic in your studio?

Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
DagnyTaggart83 #2499072 01/11/16 01:06 AM
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Make this award be a one-time thing. Link everyone's achievements to their increased practice so that you are using the benefits of this extrinsically motivated award (more practice gives me a nice trophy) to hopefully be a catalyst for something more intrinsically related (more practice makes me better at playing my pieces, or, lessons are more fun when we don't have to do the same thing over and over because I didn't practice them).



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Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
DagnyTaggart83 #2499092 01/11/16 03:24 AM
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There is a segment of the student population that relies on "reward system" in order to continue taking piano lessons. You might want to identify these students and run a separate recital just for them.

And it's not a good idea to place them in normal recitals, anyway. They tend to dampen the atmosphere (in more ways than one!) and, no matter how awesome the other students play, they won't even notice the difference. Heck, since I don't dole out rewards, anyway, I simply don't let these kids play in recitals. I don't even tell them that I'm having recitals. Their parents probably won't notice, either.


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Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
DagnyTaggart83 #2499152 01/11/16 08:59 AM
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Hi Dagny, I think every element of your reward system sounds effective except for the part where the students (and parents) compete against each other.
Reward systems are very powerful for elementary age kids. Sometimes for middle schoolers too but it really depends on the kid.
I'd eliminate the competitive aspect. I can't think of a way to include reward-giving in the recital that doesn't invite competition in some way. But definitely during the lessons it could be useful. Maybe for every 100 dollars they can choose a little toy or save up for 500 for a bigger reward.
Or maybe when the whole studio gets to 5000 combined you can throw them a party.


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Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
DagnyTaggart83 #2499165 01/11/16 10:37 AM
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I actually really like the piano dollar idea, and I have a couple ideas on how I would approach it. At my last recital (Christmas), I gave every performer an individualized certificate. I came up with half a dozen categories, and every student took home an award that highlighted their best skill/achievement in my opinion (some of them received the same award).

You could always give everyone a prize of some kind, including a trophy for the most piano dollars like you said. Other kids can get prizes for their own individual achievements, while others get the piano dollar prize. That way everyone walks away with something, but there's still a little bit of extrinsic motivation for some students.

I know not all kids are competitive, but I sure was. I don't think I would have practiced if it were not for competitions!


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Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
DagnyTaggart83 #2499185 01/11/16 11:47 AM
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You might find this article interesting... particularly the variety of practice award certificates that can be issued

http://www.practicespot.com/


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
DagnyTaggart83 #2499186 01/11/16 11:48 AM
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I think it's a bad idea as it could easily result in hurt feelings. My son and I are both pretty sensitive and I could see how awards given could backfire and be demotivating. One thing my son loves however is private notes that my son's teacher writes to him (i.e Christmas). He absolutely adores them and he can't even wait until after the lesson is over to open them as they mean so much to him.


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Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
DagnyTaggart83 #2499189 01/11/16 11:57 AM
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I'd set up something that they could "buy" with their bucks. Like cookies or pencils or stickers. That way kids with lots of bucks could by stuff for other kids or for their parents.


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Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
DagnyTaggart83 #2499195 01/11/16 12:28 PM
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I am with Heather, I like the the piano bucks/points idea but not the competitive element. With piano buck system you can let them to use the piano buck to buy stuffs. With the piano point system, you can set mile stones, and a student can get some rewards once they reach a certain milestone.

But again, it all depends on the age of the student.

For young kids under 10, the system could work well.

For kids over 12, I don't think it would be effective at all.

Between 10 to 12, it will depends on the individual students.

Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
The Monkeys #2499376 01/11/16 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
But again, it all depends on the age of the student.

For young kids under 10, the system could work well.

For kids over 12, I don't think it would be effective at all.

Between 10 to 12, it will depends on the individual students.

What is your reasoning?

Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
keystring #2499397 01/12/16 12:25 AM
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From my own experience.

I volunteer at our church's Sunday school, which has few hundred kids ranging from kindergarten to grade 12.

We use Bible bulks for grade 2 to grade 5, which is 8 to 11 old, to encourage them to learn. We have a Bible Bulk store with all sort of items, they can spend them on small items, or save up for some more significant items.

Over the years, you can see, almost invariably, the little ones are so excited about the Bible bulks, and the ones in grade 5 hardly care.

Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
The Monkeys #2499399 01/12/16 12:28 AM
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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
and the ones in grade 5 hardly cares.

They probably don't want to be there in the first place! Sounds like most piano students.


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Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
AZNpiano #2499404 01/12/16 12:55 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by The Monkeys
and the ones in grade 5 hardly cares.

They probably don't want to be there in the first place! Sounds like most piano students.


Actually most of them are super exited to move to the next grade 6-7) group. They just don't want to be associated with the younger kids anymore.

Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
dogperson #2499727 01/13/16 12:10 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
[quote=rollsomedice]

If you do give trophies, which I don't see how you can now avoid, I would not engrave them with anything that implies excellence such as Pianist of the Year, but make them specific to high PianoBucks winner, and maybe add a small piano-related item such as new music, practice diary, dictionary, etc.



I agree! It is insulting to the others who have worked so hard if there is a "pianist of the year" award! I will call it something else.

Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
laguna_greg #2499729 01/13/16 12:12 AM
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
I think it's a bad idea. It gives people funny ideas about what "Art" and "Music" are really all about. Also, it's going to create some false expectations in both the students and parents about who is going to "win", already a dubious and entirely subjective notion. Only one person can "win" at a time, so there are going to be lots and lots of "losers", and they'll each think they "lost" for the wrong and very individual reasons. Also, a person can "win" that trophy as you describe it while performing very badly or woodenly at the recital. That is not something you should want to encourage.

You really want to set up that dynamic in your studio?


I thought about that too --- what if a student wins who isn't the best at piano...That would be awkward! I have some talented students who are behind on piano dollars because they were away on vacations or something.


Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
Allysia #2499732 01/13/16 12:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Allysia
I actually really like the piano dollar idea, and I have a couple ideas on how I would approach it. At my last recital (Christmas), I gave every performer an individualized certificate. I came up with half a dozen categories, and every student took home an award that highlighted their best skill/achievement in my opinion (some of them received the same award).

You could always give everyone a prize of some kind, including a trophy for the most piano dollars like you said. Other kids can get prizes for their own individual achievements, while others get the piano dollar prize. That way everyone walks away with something, but there's still a little bit of extrinsic motivation for some students.

I know not all kids are competitive, but I sure was. I don't think I would have practiced if it were not for competitions!


That is a great idea -- though I have 40 students. It is difficult to give prizes and awards to all of them. I did think about that, though: that each student has their own particular talent that should be recognized. But how do I do that with so many?

Re: Award ideas for recital. Good or bad?
The Monkeys #2499733 01/13/16 12:15 AM
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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
I am with Heather, I like the the piano bucks/points idea but not the competitive element. With piano buck system you can let them to use the piano buck to buy stuffs. With the piano point system, you can set mile stones, and a student can get some rewards once they reach a certain milestone.

But again, it all depends on the age of the student.

For young kids under 10, the system could work well.

For kids over 12, I don't think it would be effective at all.

Between 10 to 12, it will depends on the individual students.



The only problem with them using the dollars to buy things is that I have 40 students and it would be really expensive for me to supply them all with prizes to win smirk

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