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Keeping Students Motivated When You're on Vacation

carol ivkovich

Br-r-r!! It's winter in  Michigan.  Winter is a long season here and gloomy gray days drag on endlessly.  It's rare  to see the sun several days in a row. Quite often, when the sun beams, the air is frigid. It's just the way Mother Nature works.

I'm not the only teacher in a winter state that desperately wants to see the sun and warmth during this time of year. However, planning trips during the months of January-March often presents a problem. What problem? It's smack dab in the middle of festival season and Student Achievement Testing. My allegiance to my students is strong...often stronger than their allegiance to practicing. 

This year, I decided I needed a break during the winter. Partly because of the cold, clammy weather and partly because of my additional role as caregiver for my elderly parents. (Someday we'll talk about the challenges of having simultaneous roles--caregiver, parent, and piano educator.) 

However, I wanted my students to continue practicing and preparing for their upcoming festivals. The majority of my students preparing for festivals are beginners/late beginners. It is quite easy to create activities for this age/level group that engage them. I hatched upon the idea of a Ninja Training Course. 

I gave this "training course" out to each student who is preparing for a festival. The goal: work your way around the board--completing 1 task each day in preparation for the up coming festival. Students can complete the tasks in any order--just finish the course! At the end of the course, they'll be a Piano Ninja and receive a prize. 

My students have thoroughly loved this idea. Their parents are enthusiastic because it helps their child  stay engaged in addition to the regular practice routine that each child has. 

I'm predicting a successful outcome. I'll keep you posted! If you'd like a copy of this training course, click on the links below and download it for free.  I've also included a copy of the Note Name Ninja Award that I use to help students learn note names. You can snag this file for free also. It is based off an idea from The Dynamic Studio by Philip Johnston.


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  • Megan Nyquist on

    Carol, this is perfect! What a fun, creative way to motivate! Love!

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