The are lots of different popular Piano Challenges that get mentioned Over the past few years I have experimented with using different types of challenges with my students. Some have been far more successful and engaging than others! Read on to find out which!
Year Long Piano Challenges
When I first started implementing challenges, I introduced year long ones at the beginning of the teaching year. I would run them from September to June each year. I found these were the least engaging for my students for several reasons.
Firstly, any student that started mid-way through the year was automatically behind! Not a very motivating feeling especially for a new student. Of course the alternative would be to not include them in the challenge that year – I didn’t like that thought, even if they didn’t know about the challenge, I felt like I was leaving them out of something!
Second, a year (or ten months) is a LONG time – even for an adult! Think of any goal setting plan you have used for yourself – you break the year long goal down into smaller steps. No wonder children lose interest in a long challenge!
Also, I found that the excitement wore off very quickly. Sure, there would be one or two students who kept motivated to complete the challenge, but the majority of my students seemed to become disinterested after a month or so.
Challenges I ran over a year long period included a points challenge where students were awarded points for completing certain activities: completing a piece, practicing etc. And also the challenge of completing a set number of pieces in a year.
Shorter Piano Challenges
This past year, I decided to try running much shorter challenges. My students have engaged so well these shorter piano challenges – it has got very competitive (in a friendly way!) In the UK our academic year is split into 6 half terms of around 6 to 8 weeks each, so I decided to try running one challenge each half term. This means we are not constantly doing challenges – I typically have run each one for a month, so we get a short break in between each one. And Students have been eager to know what the next challenge will be as soon as the current one is over!
So far I have run a scales challenge, a sight reading challenge, and keyboard geography challenge! Future challenges I have planned include: a music egg race challenge and a musical memory challenge.
Piano Challenge Prizes
Of course, no Piano Challenge is complete without a prize at the end! In the past, I awarded badges to anyone who completed the challenge. But this year I decided to change things up a bit and put together these mini challenge prize packs.
- an Iwako eraser (themed to match the season/challenge topic)
- a music patterned pencil
- a frixion erasable pen (my students adore these!)
- and some fun size sweets
(For many years I was not a fan of giving sweets out as a prize, but my students really love getting something sweet, so I gave in 🙈- my rule is that they have to ask parents permission before they eat them though!)
I was able to buy everything I needed on amazon, ebay and my usual supermarket, and each prize worked out at under £3 each – a real bargain, especially for how well they have gone down with my students!
3 Ideas for Engaging Piano Challenges
I’ve written a free e-book with 3 Ideas for Engaging Piano Challenges. Inside the e-book is the (short) lists of what you need, how each challenge works (they’re quick and easy!) and how to determine the winner. Also included is how to modify each one to make it harder or easier depending on your students’ abilities!
What have been your favourite Piano Challenges to run?
Over to you! Have you got any Piano Challenges planned soon? Has there been a particular challenge that you and your students have really enjoyed?
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