Sunday, January 27, 2013

A whole lot of practicing going on!

Practice chains have been a regular feature in my studio for 2 years now. They have really changed how my students and their parents view daily home practice. The beads don't represent how many minutes or hours my student claimed to have practiced, or a quickly dashed off signature of parents just before the lesson, but they are in fact a rating of how well the students could demonstrate their daily home practice to me in their lessons. 

Several of my students are consistently receiving the highest rating of 5 each and every week this year. This means they not only did their entire assignment perfectly, but they blew me away in the lesson- playing even better than I expected. Its really exciting to see these students progress so much over the past 2 years. And even more exciting is seeing how their ability to play more easily results in more practice. Isn't amazing what daily practice can accomplish? 

Here is how the beads work-

5 beads- (A+) The student was not only prepared, but they “hit it out of the ball park”. Lesson progress exceeded teacher expectation. Student worked ahead.

4 beads- (A) The student did very well and was prepared for the lesson. 
They were able to demonstrate progress through home practice and were also able to demonstrate that they understood what was expected and followed through with that expectation.

3 beads- (B) Although the student may have practiced, improvement is desired. The student may not have followed specific practice instructions given on the assignment sheet, or the student did not practice the suggested period of time each day. The student may have forgotten to complete the assignment as directed. Progress was limited and home practice can be improved.

2 beads- (C) The student was not completely prepared for the lessons. 
They failed to complete some or all of the assigned material or failed to demonstrate acceptable progress through home practice. They may have practice only what came easily to them.

1 bead- (D/F) The student did not complete the assignments in an acceptable manner and was unprepared for the lesson. Home practice was not evident based on their ability to play the assigned material. Continued and persistent lack of observable progress will require a 
parent/teacher conference.

Our practice chains are looking great! 
What a wonderful motivator these have been for my students!


  1. How do I sign up to join this site through my email?

  2. Hi Susan- I think you just "follow" the site. I don't think you need a google id.

  3. Love this idea! Could you explain the who, what, where, when and how you make the chains? Do the students add the beads to the chains at each lesson, etc?

  4. If you do a search in this blog for practice chains, somewhere in there I have a picture essay of exactly how I make the chains. At the end of each lesson I will "award" the student between 1 and 5 beads depending on how well they could come in a demonstrate last week's assignment. They choose their beads from the box. The chains hang in my waiting room and add the beads themselves. Then at the end of the year recital, they get to keep the chains. We make the new one at my back-to-school party.