Behavior Charts/Incentives : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I teach group lessons with keyboards, so it is a huge challenge to keep the students on task when the always want to play with the buttons and demos. If anyone has any suggestions for this problem, I would gladly appreciate it. I have started "good behavior charts" where students get points and the points add up to prizes. Does anyone have any good prize ideas?? Obviously, candy and food are both good ideas for teenagers and younger children, but my mom - a school nurse - has been working really hard to battle the "food is a reward -- obesity" misconception. Are there any cute music ideas or so forth that anyone can share??

I really appreciate the thoughts! Erika

-- Erika (, January 29, 2004


In my many years of group teaching, I found the solution to be in prevention and pacing. First, the classroom rule has to be that when they are sitting at the keyboards and have not been instructed to play, hands must be in their laps. Second, you can assign a different sound for each student to use. Change it from activity to activity so that students are permitted to touch the buttons, but only on your direction. You can do this easily by dividing the students into groups and have group A use sound X and group B use sound Y. Anyone abusing the system must sit out an activity.

Good pacing is essential. You must be ready to go with each activity with as little talking as possible so that students don't have the opportunity to mess around.

Try not to make the keyboards the center of attention. Vary your activities to include lots of movement, singing, work at the board, listening, etc.

Good luck!

-- Arlene Steffen (, January 29, 2004.

Ah yes, all the keyboard buttons and fingers playing when I was trying to I remember why I always needed Tylenol when my day of group classes was over! LOL! I don't teach groups anymore, but when I did, here is one thing I did: each student started out with 3 tokens (little plastic chips) that I had placed on their piano or keyboard. For the first rule violation, I would take one token and give a verbal reminder of the rule. 2nd violation, I would take another token and I turned their keyboard volume off for 5 minutes. 3rd violation I would take the last token, and they would sit off to the side for 5 minutes. Any remaining tokens at the end of class gave them points in an ongoing contest. BTW, I seldom had a student lose all 3 tokens. Another thing that I sometimes did with my younger students was that they could bring a small beanie baby (they were really the rage 3 or 4 years ago) and the animal could sit on their piano/keyboard as long as the student broke NO rules--1 violation and the animal had to go into the student's music bag. We used beanie babies a lot in my younger group--I had a set of 7 animals that started with A B C D E F G, (Alligator, Bear, etc) and we'd play music games with the animals on my grand staff floormat. So it was a special treat for them to bring their own animals to class.

-- annie (, January 29, 2004.

I keep grab bag which I invite students who do a good job in their lesson to have 1 grab from each lesson. I keep trinkets and individually wrapped candy I buy at a wholesale store in there. They look forward to their grab and are disappointed if I won't let them have a grab (1 item only per person).

-- Sandy Wilkinson (, February 03, 2004.

With young kids you can get a lot of mileage out of the kind of trinkets you can buy at a "Dollar General" type store--the sort of thing kids are always asking the parent for but the parent usually says no.

You can often buy a lot of things kids will love, 2 or 4 or 6 for a dollar. These kinds of things make a nice variety from candy or food rewards.

Another idea is to use "music money". The idea behind the money is you can give away money frequently, so you have the type of reward that you can use often. But they have to SAVE UP money to buy a prize.

So you can give very frequent positive feedback, and they have a real, tangible reward, but you're actually handing out a very small amount of toys, candy, or whatever your prizes are.

I made up my own music money, with sixteenths, eights, quarters, halfs, dotted halfs, quarters and eighths, and so on. But you can use play money or monopoly money or whatever.

-- Brent Hugh (, February 19, 2004.

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