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Creating a Reward System to Motivate Your Students to Practice and Improve their Skills

As a music educator, motivating your students to practice and improve their skills can be a challenge. One effective way to encourage students to put in the time and effort needed to make musical progress is to create a reward system. In this blog post, we’ll explore nine steps to creating a successful reward system that will motivate your students to practice and improve their skills.

Reward System

Step 1: Define the Goal

The first step in creating a reward system is to define the music-based goal. What specific skill or behavior do you want to motivate your students to improve? This could be anything from regular practice to improving sight reading skills. It’s important to be specific and clear about what you expect from your students. This will help you determine what criteria to use for earning the reward.

Step 2: Determine the Reward

Once you have defined the goal, you need to determine the reward. This could be anything from extra credit to a certificate of achievement to access to some classroom privilege. The reward should be something that your students value and that will motivate them to work towards the goal.

Step 3: Set the Criteria

Next, you need to set the criteria for earning the reward. For example, if you want to encourage regular practice, you might require students to practice for a certain amount of time each week. Or if you want to improve sight reading skills, you might require students to work up a certain selection of pieces of musical literature within a week. It’s important to make the criteria challenging but achievable.

Step 4: Communicate the Reward System

It’s important to communicate the reward system clearly to your students. Make sure they understand the goal, the reward, and the criteria for earning the reward. You should also explain how progress will be tracked and how often rewards will be given out.

Here are some ideas for music education rewards that you could offer to your students:

  • Extra credit
  • Certificate of achievement
  • Access to some classroom privilege (e.g. choosing the next piece to learn)
  • Public recognition of achievement (e.g. in a school assembly)
  • Opportunity to perform at a special event
  • Music-related prizes (e.g. sheet music, instrument accessories)

Remember, the reward should be something that your students value and that will motivate them to work towards the goal. You could offer different rewards for different goals, or have a tiered system where students can earn increasingly valuable rewards as they achieve more challenging goals.

Step 5: Track Progress

To keep your students motivated, you need to track their progress. This could be as simple as keeping a chart on the wall or as complex as using a digital tracking system. Whatever method you choose, make sure it’s easy to use and that students can see their progress.

Here are some examples of reward tracking systems you could use:

  • A simple chart on the wall where students can place stickers or checkmarks to indicate their progress
  • A digital tracking system that allows students to log their practice time or progress towards specific goals
  • A spreadsheet or document that tracks each student’s progress towards earning the reward
  • A bulletin board where students can see their progress and the progress of their classmates

You could also combine different tracking methods to create a system that works best for you and your students.

Step 6: Celebrate Achievements

When a student earns a reward, it’s important to celebrate their achievement. This could be as simple as a verbal recognition in class or as elaborate as a certificate ceremony. Celebrating achievements will help motivate students to continue working towards their goals.

Here are some additional ideas for celebrating student musicians’ achievements:

  • A special performance or recital for the student, their family and friends
  • A feature on the school or organization’s website or social media pages
  • Public recognition at a school assembly or concert
  • A personalized note or letter from the music educator or school principal
  • A reward ceremony or banquet for all students who have achieved their goals

Remember, celebrating achievements is an important part of motivating students to continue working towards their goals. Make sure to choose a celebration that is meaningful to the student and that will motivate them to continue improving their skills.

Step 7: Adjust the Reward System as Needed

As you implement the reward system, you may reflect and find that adjustments are needed. Don’t be afraid to make changes to the goal, the reward, or the criteria if they aren’t working as expected. It’s important to be flexible and willing to make changes in order to keep your students motivated.

Step 8: Be Consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to motivating your students with a reward system. Make sure you apply the criteria consistently and that you celebrate achievements in a consistent way. This will help students understand the expectations and will make the system feel fair.

Step 9: Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Reward System

Finally, you need to evaluate the effectiveness of the reward system. Are your students more motivated to practice and improve their skills? Are they achieving the goals you set out for them? Use this information to make changes and improvements to the reward system. It’s important to keep evaluating the system and making changes as needed to ensure that it continues to be effective.


In conclusion, creating a reward system can be a powerful tool for motivating your music students to practice and improve their skills. By following these nine steps, you can create a system that is specific, clear, and effective. Remember to communicate the system clearly, track progress, celebrate achievements, and be willing to make adjustments as needed. With a well-designed reward system, you can help your students achieve their musical goals and become more confident and skilled musicians.



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