Now that I am done writing about my own “100 Days of Practice” Challenge, the only thing left to discuss is my students who also participated in the challenge. AND, to celebrate the completion of the blogging portion of this project, I am offering free shipping on all charts, and certificates in the AV SHOP with code 100days. Remember, that if you are a teacher, I offer a discounted price for larger orders so send me a message if you're interested. #HappyPracticing
When the challenge began in February, I had 22 private students, of which 18 agreed to participate. That’s roughly 80% - not bad! The students who did not participate were the very youngest students (age 4) and two of my adult students who have hectic work lives that involve regular national and international travel.
The challenge began on February 1st, and between February 1st and May 11th, the final day, there was a little bit of shuffling around in my studio numbers: some left (6), and some joined (6). Those who entered my studio more than 2 weeks after the challenge began were not invited to participate in the Practice Challenge, because they would not be done in time for the Spring Recital. I initially intended this to be an annual Spring tradition in the studio, but then I moved this summer so I can’t enforce this as a regular practice (this is a nudge to all of my current and former students and parents).
Students were assigned a daily minimum of required practice time that was based on the length of their lesson. Obviously, they were strongly encouraged to practice for longer than the minimum, but this was set to ensure they didn’t just play through one song quickly and call it practice. Plus, I know life gets very busy, and sometimes we don’t have time to do all of the practice we need or want to do, so it was also to ensure that there was at least a little bit of practice happening even on busy days, not just sloppy playing.
Students were not able to use youth symphony rehearsals, El Sistema classes, school ensembles, etc. as part of this challenge, but they could earn extra stickers for attending my group classes and their regular private lessons. So, if they were smart and motivated, they could earn more than 100 stickers during our 100 Days of Practice Studio Challenge.
I was so excited for this challenge. I knew that some of my students were not practicing every day (my studio policy is a required 6 days of practice per week), and I hoped this challenge might motivate them to work harder. There is just no satisfaction like the satisfaction of putting a sticker on your chart after practice. There were certificates for 30+, 60+, and 100 days of practice. I did not want to discourage students from trying if they fell short of the full 100 days, so I included a few lower targets to achieve as well.
This challenge improved my group class attendance and the overall practice habits of my students. Did they all practice for 100 days? No, but the consistency improved overall and the students who practiced at least 80 of the 100 days improved dramatically. I heard from more than one student that after the challenge was complete, they felt like something was missing in the day if they didn’t practice (success! we cultivated healthy habits!). Some of my students really surprised me with the instant change in attitude: who knew they needed a little healthy competition and some stickers to motivate them? They all wanted to “win” the challenge (even though the only reward was a certificate).
Throughout the challenge, I recorded my students in their lessons without warning just to keep them on their toes. Some students get really nervous when you turn the camera on, which I think also helps them prepare for performances (how do you battle nerves, especially when they seem to come out of nowhere?). Some students wanted to pass on the recording one week or another because they felt they weren’t prepared, but I wanted to document their progress (or sometimes lack of progress) for them to reference later. They can see what a good week of practice looks like, and an unsuccessful week looks like almost side by side.
Below, you will find some of their videos in chronological order. Can you see any improvement?
I am immensely proud of all of my students, and I learned so much from doing this challenge with them. It gave the studio a common goal and improved the motivation of my students regardless of age or ability.
This was such a good studio challenge! It has inspired me to create additional practice and teaching aids to further the motivation and education of my students and any violinist interested. I will be implementing more short-term challenges into my own teaching as well so stay tuned for more updates and other goodies that will be hitting the shop soon.
Do you have any questions about the challenge? Leave a message below or drop me a line if you are curious about anything you see here. And don’t forget to visit the AV SHOP to get FREE SHIPPING on your charts, stickers, and certificates with code 100days.
Student Lesson Videos
Apparently several of my students escaped lesson videos. I guess I was too focused on whatever we were working on in those lessons. Our Spring Recital can be found at the very bottom of this post. Enjoy!
I live streamed the Spring Recital (held in collaboration with Ms. Jennifer and her students) and Certificate ceremony. You can see the performance below. It is in two separate videos because I’m not very good at technology and this was my first Facebook live stream.
Part 2 - sideways due to my ineptitude with technology - it is definitely worth the neck pain of tipping your head to watch.
Most of my students at the end of our Spring Studio Recital (a few snuck out before the picture). SO proud of these young musicians. They are incredible humans!