Every year I run the same practice contest in January, and it never gets old. Today I asked a group of students “does anyone remember what we do in January that is special?” I told them it has to do with the “most important holiday of the year” which is, of course, MY BIRTHDAY!
Joking aside, I’m not really big into celebrating my birthday, but it is a great way to get your students to practice.
I hand out these awesome practice charts (if you’d like a FREE practice chart to give your students, just sign up for my Free Monthly Newsletters in the annoying popup box when you leave this page!)
At the first lesson in January I ask my students how much they normally practice…if they say “30 minutes” then I ask them to practice 35 minutes every day in January. IF it’s only 5, ask for 10! Every day they practice this extra amount, they can color in a treble clef any way they like. If they are able to color in all the treble clefs then the paper magically becomes their invitation to my “popcorn and ice cream birthday party” which is really a group lesson in disguise. If you are a Suzuki teacher, you will know why I choose the popcorn and ice cream theme, but if you don’t, they are popular words to Suzuki Variation B in book 1. I make a big deal about how they can’t forget to give me my present, and how they don’t want to miss out on the party, so generally lots of students do come and do practice extra.
I have a special place in my studio I hang the completed practice charts every year, my students all sound great the first week of Feb. for my birthday, and it gives me a sense of satisfaction, which really does make it a good present!
At the party (which is held the week after my birthday around the end of the first week of Feb. so everyone has plenty of time to fill in all those treble clefs) we play some of my favorite music games like music twister, or throwing snowballs.
The main event is eating lots of popcorn and ice cream and having fun getting to know each other better. I am really goofy at the party, and will put up all kinds of crazy decorations and we generally have a fantastic time with noisemakers and silly hats. Kids love their teachers being silly. Ask my daughter who her favorite teacher was at music camp last year, and it was the silliest one! Another idea is you can have the kids decorate something to give to you. A blank white coffee mug, shower curtain or set of pillowcases decorated with sharpies and set in the dryer or oven are fantastic memories of the day, and it’s fun to see what they choose to draw (I usually ask them to draw one musical thing before drawing whatever they choose.) Here are some links to projects I’ve done with mugs and shower curtains.
I’m glad my birthday is the beginning of Feb. but you could have this practice contest ANYTIME like….either at the beginning of the year or school year, to kick off that practicing habit or you could do it anytime the month before your own birthday. You could ALSO pretend that it’s your PET’s Birthday in Feb. if you want to do this Contest NOW in January, OR it could also be your Studio Mascot’s Birthday. Be sure to have all your students practice Happy Birthday so they can all sing and play it to you at the party! If you need some books with the song in it, these are my favorites (disclosure: Amazon Affiliate Links)
This is the Red PreTime book below: I have about 5 studio copies I love this book so much!
If you like my post, say thanks my “liking” me on facebook at ViolinJudy’s Violin and Piano Lessons so you can find my great ideas again! https://www.facebook.com/violinjudystudio/
If you’re struggling to fill up your studio or need some fresh ideas to bring Joy back into lessons, consider my consulting for the frugal teacher: find the Joyful Noise Consulting tab on my website and shoot me an email at violinjudy at gmail.com! Also, be sure to check out my book at Amazon for 60 days of painless studio organization and promotion here: