Download the Music Sight Reading Holiday Challenge

Sight Reading Holiday Challenge | | #sightreading #holiday #piano #lessons #ideas

How about a sight reading holiday challenge to motivate your students during these busy holiday months! This one one of the best ideas I ever had for my studio and like most creative ideas, it was based on another idea I got from Patricia Powell in an MTNA ejournal article where we did sight-reading for sight-saving during the month of May which is National Sight-saving Month.

How did I motivate my students to sight-read?

In previous sight-reading challenges, we have raised money for special needs adoption as well as a local organization that works with the visually impaired.

But since our end-of-the-year group lesson/holiday party is the most anticipated event of the season (I’ll give you the whole lesson plan and some free games next week), I decided to motivate my students by dangling extra time for our party based on how many days of sight reading they all did. So, I motivated them to work together as a team to get an extra 15 minutes or 30 minutes of a group lesson and party! [Every studio is different and this might not work for you…but you can use any prize you want!]

The visual ornaments are the key in the sight-reading holiday challenge!

When students see the ornaments building up that they and others have created they get excited and motivated Here’s how the sight reading holiday challenge worked for my studio:

Sight reading holiday challenge for piano students! |

  • Each student filled in 1 little ornament on the ornament chart for every day that they sight read (see page 2 of the download).
  • For every 5 days, they got to decorate a bigger ornament which I placed on the wall.
  • If their wall ornaments reached from one corner of the wall to the other by December 12th, all groups got 15 extra minutes of games at their Christmas party on December 19th!  (I carefully measured the wall and each ornament to see how far they should get if each student gets one big ornament a week…the 5 days they are supposed to practice.)  The chart of the smaller ornaments on the wall also helped students feel compelled to sight read as they know their peers will notice if they are not keeping up!

As the students saw the line of ornaments on the wall getting longer and longer, they were more and more motivated! Having the visual ornaments in a prominent position in the studio was key to motivating them.

Of course, you can use any other prize to dangle in front of them. But, encouraging them to work together and be rewarded as a team is a much better way to motivate students.

Sight reading holiday challenge for piano and music students |

Did everyone get involved?

There were a few outliers (as there usually are) in the contest, but it was interesting watching their siblings especially “talk to” them about their need to contribute!

How can you do this even more simply?

Okay, let’s break this down to where you can do the sight reading holiday challenge in an easier way than we even did!

  1. Use the big ornaments only and tell students that for every day they practice, they can decorate and hang a big ornament.
  2. Tell them to come early or stay late so that they can not spend any lesson time decorating. PLUS, there’s a huge added benefit to your next student seeing them decorate their 5 ornaments. It reminds them that they are part of a team and also puts a little social pressure on them to do it too!
  3. Adjust your reward based on the fact that they’ll be getting a large ornament to hang for every day they practice.

How do you calculate your goal for the sight reading holiday challenge?

When calculating the number of ornaments you want them to get to get for the prize, I’d do this:
Number of students participating (S)
x (multiply)
Number of weeks they have to earn (W)
x (multiply)
5 (days a week)
– (minus)
Outlier variants [e.g. Figure in how many days off you expect them to take at Thanksgiving (be generous) and shave off a few days here and there because December gets busy!] (V)

So the formula would be: S x W x 5 – V = Total number of ornaments they need to win the prize.

Let’s Build on the Idea!

Creativity begets more creativity, so how do you plan to use this idea or other ideas to challenge your students to sight reading during the busy holiday months? I and the wonderful ComposeCreate teachers would love to read any ideas you have! Please leave them in the comments below!

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