To give or to NOT give prizes to your students…this is a contentious topic among independent music teachers! I didn’t give my students prizes when I started teaching but I wished I would have!
Here are some some pics of some students with prizes at my Violin and Piano studio:
As you know, I love to tell you about my experiences with my own daughter as they really changed my teaching style! Whenshe was small(aged 0-3) we were blessed to literally win a lottery to have a Parents As Teachers educator come to our home once a month and give us tips to ensure our child was meeting milestones and thriving! Our PAT teacher explained prizes, rewards of any kind as a simple bribe, and that we as adults don’t show up to our job because it’s “fun” or “the right thing to do” but because we are paid to do our work! She said in her experience that the same concept works well with children!
From a business standpoint-having an inexpensive prize that children look forward to can really help with retention. Is $1/month or $12/year worth keeping a student for five years? YES!
About fifteen years ago I implemented the treasure chest in my studio. at first I would keep track of a students’ earned stamps-one per page accomplished just as one of my childhood teachers had “run” her treasure chest. When the student had completed ten assignments I would allow them to choose a prize, usually a value of around ten dollars.
I quickly realized that this created inequity in siblings ad resentment! Students also took TOO LONG to choose this prize. I decided to have smaller prizes worth .25 or less and allow the student to choose weekly if they had practiced and had a good (well-mannered) lesson. In the picture below you’ll see student Miss F. with some candies in the background we had for a special summer incentive.When Covid-19 hit I quickly got rid of my treasure chest. I was completely unable to sanitize the prizes after each lesson as I teach to back to back lessons. I also had some really old and undesirable (to my students) prizes in the treasure chest so I found a school teacher who was elated to take it off my hands!
I do plan to have a treasure chest in the future when the pandemic is over, however in the meantime with many of my students taking virtual lessons only, I have been on the lookout for small and lightweight thin prizes that I can mail to my students. With a large studio the postage fee has been eating up my budget. These “mailable with one stamp” prizes have been a lifesaver and I hope you enjoy them too! Please note these are amazon affiliate links, which help fund the upkeep of this website and blog!
First Up we have some really nice Music Themed Bookmarks! The price is $9.99 for 30 at the time of writing this post which makes the cost 33 cents each.
Next Up We have the ALWAYS popular stickers, and I just love scratch and sniff stickers. My favorites are the Eureka brand, especially the coke, orange and cupcake scents! At $2.49 for a package, it’s a really good value. If you have a marble store near you these are also around $3 and you can use their online coupon. Oriental Trading also has some as well however you would need to pay for shipping.
Third on my list are these really cool shiny/holographic whatever we call them Sticky tabs. I think these are TOO Expensive but I went ahead because we are in a pandemic. If I get the bigger ones I carefully cut them into smaller tabs. In my opinion they don’t last as long as the post-it brand but frivolity isn’t something I’ll deny in a sticky tab!
These Treble Clef paperclips have been a favorite with young through adult students! Great for keeping your spot in your music! The price is 100 for $11.99 at the time of writing this blog post which makes these around 12 cents each.
Finally, If you think a different incentive program might work better for you check out this ultimate guide to choosing an incentive program here: https://pianosaurusrex.nz/choosing-an-incentive-programme/. and thank you to PianoSaurusRex for including our Birthday Practice Contest https://violinjudy.com/2016/01/1012/ in this resource roundup!
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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: