Harry Potter Helps Students Practice

Four weeks ago, my Harry Potter-obsessed 11-year-old daughter suggested I implement a ‘house’ system with my students. She said she thought they would all practice more if they were earning points for their house and competing for the ‘house cup’ (something which happens in Harry Potter, in case you didn’t know that).

Even though it was nearly the end of the year, I decided it would be fun to trial it for a short time. It has been a huge success!

I allocated each student to one of three houses: Yamaha, Kawai and Steinway. (Not trying for any sort of ‘product placement’ here, I just thought these names were appropriate!) I split siblings up so that they would be able to compete against each other. Here is an extract from the email I sent to all of my students:

“You can earn points for your House by practising! You will earn:

· 1 point per minute of practice PLUS

· 5 bonus points per session of practice

You must keep a log of the day or date and start/finish times of each practice during the week… starting right now! Next lesson we’ll be adding your points to your House’s total.

In addition, you will be awarded 10, 20 or 30 progress points in your lesson. Obviously, the more efficient your practice is during the week, the more you will have progressed.

The House with the most points at the end of the term will win the House Cup! There will also be awards for individual effort.”

Everyone got very excited about this and I had colourful charts on the wall showing each student’s contribution and the growing house totals. I plan to convert these into high-tech Excel graphs at some stage (with help from my husband of course) and post them on the website. All in all it really got students motivated to practice!

Samantha Coates

Samantha Coates is a professional pianist and teacher with over 25 years experience in both private and group tuition. She is the author and publisher of BlitzBooks, the music education series that has captured the imagination of students across Australia and transformed the teaching of music theory, sight reading and general knowledge.

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