When students know that they’ll have to give an accounting of their efforts at home, they are much more likely to practice every day. We’re all this way–it’s just human nature that if we know someone is going to follow up with us, we’ll put in more effort.
I especially love this practice log because students record their numbers right next to their assignments, and because it asks students to be very specific about how much they’re practicing. This insight is so valuable to us teachers!
Read on to learn how I use this piano practice chart with my students. You can print it for free by clicking here or by clicking on the image.
Benefits of Using Piano Practice Charts With Your Students
I now ask my students to record their practicing on the log you see featured on this page, and it’s made a world of difference.
Use this Piano Practice Log with Group and Private Students
You can use this practice chart for both your private students and your group students. In a group lesson setting, practice logs can be really fun and motivating because kids like the challenge of keeping up with their friends–the group setting naturally creates a positive peer pressure.
Here’s a breakdown of how each component of the piano practice log works:
Writing the date at the top of each page is important so that students practice the correct assignment during the week. I also find that during a lesson I’ll flip back a few pages to remind myself of what we’ve been working on.
Piece and Practice Plan
Beneath the date, you’ll find blank spaces to write in the piece and the student’s practice plan. In the first blank, under where it says “piece” on the far left, you will write what the student is supposed to practice.
Ex. Lesson p 26
Performance p 41
When we’re working out of method books, I just choose a keyword from the title of the book and use that same keyword each week. Most method book series have a “Lesson” book, “Performance” book, and so forth, so I’ll just write “Performance p 41” here on the student’s assignment sheet.
You can use the blank spaces under where it says “My Practice Plan” to give the student specific directions on how you’d like them to practice. I’ve found that when I’m specific in what I write down, the student makes better progress during the week.
Ex. 2x count, 2x say note names
3x count, watch fingering
3x, watch articulations, dynamics
So if a student’s assignment sheet says:
Piece My Practice Plan
Lesson p 26 2x count, 2x say note names
that means I’d like them to practice page 26 from their lesson book four times each day–twice while counting out loud and twice while saying the note names out loud.
How Many Times I Practiced Each Day
This section is what makes this log so special. This is where students record their efforts for the week.
Next to each piece you assigned, there is a circle representing each day of the week. We’re not looking for check marks here–we want students to give a specific accounting of how many times they practiced each assigned song.
If I ask the student to practice a song four times, I want to see the number 4 written in each of those circles when they come to their next lesson. If they’ve practiced less than that, I’ll know and we can talk about if the piece was too difficult, or if they had a busy week, or if they just need to put in more effort.
It’s easy for a student to slop through a song one time and then check it off. But when they write the number 3, they know that they’re telling you that they practiced that song three times that day.
But what really makes this section special is its power to motivate students to put full effort into their practicing. As I mentioned earlier, students are much more likely to practice their complete assignment if they know they’ll be asked to give an accounting of their practicing.
Can students fib about how much they’re practicing? Sure. But if they do, they do so knowing full well that they aren’t being truthful. In the future, they won’t be able to look back and wonder why they didn’t make the same progress as other students. They’ll know.
It’s important that students learn that they themselves are responsible for their progress at the piano. When you ask students to fill out a practice log, you help them develop this sense of accountability.
Questions and Comments
This space is for students and parents, and it’s proven enormously helpful.
If students have a question during the week, they can write it down. This way the student doesn’t forget to ask during the lesson, and it’s also very helpful for students who are a little timid about asking questions or making comments.
Parents can use this space too, to ask me any questions they may have, or to write a quick note about a hand injury during soccer practice that made it difficult for the student to practice the left hand part of a song.
I typically don’t see stuff written here every week, but it’s been great to give students and parents the opportunity to communicate on their assignment sheet.
I Want to Earn a 5 Star Lesson Every Week
Do you see the star at the top left of the page? This is where I record the points the student earned during the lesson.
My point system was inspired by the system used by Jennifer Foxx in her Magic of Music piano practice incentive program. Magic of Music was a very fun program that my students loved, and I was impressed by the clever and creative way that Jennifer articulated what she expected from her students and how she rewarded them in a fun way.
At the beginning of the year, you can give students a list of how to earn points. A five star lesson means that the student met all your expectations, and students love to earn a five star lesson, so this approach can be very motivating. It’s best if you make this fun, and I’d encourage you to check out the Magic of Music where all the work is done for you.
I’ve modified my point system a little, but the gist is that students are rewarded for the number of days they practice (practice their complete assignment), passing off pieces, completing their theory homework, and so forth.
What I really love about this type of point system is that it rewards both the effort and the results. Both are important to recognize and praise.
Some students don’t learn as quickly as others, in spite of working hard. Although these students may not pass off their pieces every week, you can recognize and praise them for their efforts. In fact, for students in this category it’s essential that you do reward them for their labors. They need to know that you appreciate that they are practicing every day, and your praise can help them stay motivated. When you use a practice chart, you’ll be able to see what they’ve done at home and award them points for their effort.
There are some students who may fib on their practice logs. For these students, it’s good that you’re monitoring both their account of their efforts and the results. Of course they can write whatever number they’d like, but they won’t be able to get a 5 star lesson if they aren’t passing off their pieces. The positive way to approach this situation is to discuss effective practice strategies. You could say, “I’ve noticed that your chart says you are practicing every day, but that you aren’t passing off your songs. I want to help you so that you can earn a five star lesson every week. Make sure you practice every day, and here are some ideas for effective piano practice….”
Then there are other students who can master pieces quickly, without a lot of practicing. Theses students truly have a gift and huge potential. They’re selling themselves short if they don’t practice every day. So I really like that by using the combination of the practice log and the point system, these students do get rewarded for the “result” of passing off a piece, but also have the incentive to practice every day. When these students or their parents tell me that they’re mastering their pieces by the middle of the week, I can adapt their assignment so that it’s a better fit, or give them some creative assignments that they can focus on at the end of the week.
Most students, however, will just be typical–they’ll be honest on their practice logs and they’ll be able to pass off their pieces if they’ve practiced well during the week. They’ll be pleased to earn points for practicing every day, and also be happy that they’re rewarded for passing off their songs.
Parents tell me that this point system helps them out a ton at home. They can say things like, “You need to practice today so that you can get your stars!” One mom worked out a deal with her older son–if he earns a 5 star lesson, she won’t bug him about practicing, but if he doesn’t then she has the right to nag him during the week.
If you use a system that rewards both effort and end results in a fun way, you’ll find that your students get a positive momentum going. They’ll want to practice so that they can earn their points, and then they’ll love how they feel when they are making great progress.
Practice tricks are techniques for learning new pieces. Without guidance, most students will just start at the beginning of their piece and play through till the end, which is not a very effective way to learn a new song. Many won’t pause to work on trouble areas or slow down to pay attention to every articulation and dynamic.
I ask students to pick one practice trick each week, use it, and write the number in the circle at the bottom of their assignment sheet. As students utilize the different practice tricks, they’ll master many different techniques for learning a new piece of music efficiently.
You can create your own practice tricks by typing up your favorite practice strategies and giving your students each a copy. If you’d like to purchase my Piano Practice Tricks, you can buy the PDF here.
I believe that parent involvement is crucial for a student’s success. So each week, I ask parents to initial the practice chart, signaling that they agree with the numbers recorded on the page.
How I Prepare My Piano Practice Charts
At the beginning of the semester I take this practice chart to the copy center, and ask for 100-200 copies. I have it printed double-sided and then hole punched. This way I’m all ready to go. I’ll stick several sheets inside each student’s 3 ring piano binder, and then keep the rest in a binder in my studio. I keep the binder near my piano so that I can pull out more copies when a student runs out of practice logs.
You Are Welcome to use My Piano Practice Chart
To print this chart for free, just click the link or click on the image at the top of the page and the PDF will open in a new tab. I hope it will prove helpful for you, as it has for me.
Did you enjoy learning how this piano practice chart can help your students practice better? Here’s what you can do next:
First, Leave a Comment–we all benefit when we work together and share ideas.
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