A "Gold" Incentive in the 30 Piece Challenge

Yesterday a student of mine reached his 10th piece in the 30 Piece Challenge that we started in January.  John was the first student to reach 10 pieces.  He’s also a brand new student, and so it was a pretty big deal that he was in the lead!

He was absolutely beaming when he left the studio with his “gold” prize 🙂

How I’m Using the 30 Piece Challenge:

We started our incentive in January, which isn’t how you typically use this challenge. (It’s supposed to start at the beginning of the school year.) We’re running ours through the end of the summer, as I thought it might be a nice way to keep momentum going throughout the summer months.

This is my first time using the program, and so far I really like it. It’s simple to keep track, doesn’t take a lot of time to mark during lessons, and it gives students a sense of achievement when they reach their milestones.

Getting Tweens and Teens Involved:

One change I made to the program: Because intermediate repertoire is so much longer and more time consuming to learn, it would be impossible for my tweens/teens to reach 30 pieces. We decided on a “15 Piece Challenge” where the milestones are set for every 5 pieces.

And believe it or not, most of my tweens/teens are just as excited about music pencils, erasable gel pens, and iTunes gift cards as my younger students 😉 I guess that sometimes incentives can work for all ages!

How I Use Incentives:

I don’t hand out a ton of prizes in my studio, but when I do I like to make sure that A) it’s for something meaningful such as mastering a number of pieces, overcoming a big obstacle, or setting a personal or studio record, and B) that it’s almost always something music related.

The first Prize Level was a gold-foil music pencil. After searching forever for reasonably priced music pencils, I stumbled across a box of 144 pencils that came to about $0.27 a piece.

Yes, that’s a lot of pencils.

With 32 students in the studio at the moment, this could potentially last me 4.5 years if I only handed out one per student.

But who only needs one music pencil a year? 🙂 These will be part of my 30 Piece Challenge, and I also plan on using them next fall as part of my assignment binder refresh. And I’m sure I’ll find other uses for them as well.

In my pencil search, I found a few other designs that I bookmarked:

These were cute, and even cheaper than the gold pencils:

Slightly more per-pencil, but I love the colors:

And of course, these are my favorites.
But they’re a bit too expensive when you have 32 students.

Are YOU using the 30 Piece Challenge?

I’m interested to hear how other teachers are using this challenge. What kind of prizes did you use in your studio this year? How are your students progressing? Let me know in the comments!

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