One thing I did was to run a five-week contest. Students earned points for their scores in sight reading, ear training, and technical work. The points climbed higher each week. Because the contest was running, I (the teacher) made sure to cover these elements at every lesson. They (the students) started paying attention – working at home, and focused concentration at the lesson. Everyone improved while the contest was on.
In addition, they earned points for the number of days each week that they practised. I ask my students to practise at least five days per week. While I do have some guidelines for how much time to practise each day, I don’t usually mandate setting the oven timer. I want my students to approach their practising with the attitude of taking whatever amount of time is needed to get the job done. And a student will make better progress by practising for 30 minutes over five days versus practising 75 minutes over two days. There is something very important about the frequency of practising.
So, the contest points were geared to getting yourself to the piano during the busiest time of the year. For the duration of the contest I didn’t care if practise time had to be shorter than usual. I just wanted them to make it a priority to schedule their practising each week. And guess what they accomplished?
Six hundred and seventy-five practice days!
Plus, another excellent recital.