Now that we are in the last days of the year, I always love looking back to all the good things that this year brought and all the things that I could reflect on to make the next year a bit better.
Regarding piano and my teaching process, I always like to ask myself: “What was my biggest achievement this year?” and “What do I want to improve for next year?”. I also notice that my students see the new year as an opportunity to get rid of things they want to change or improve and set new goals with their biggest enthusiasm. These days I have been wondering: how can I help them to set these goals and motivate them more with piano in the upcoming year? Then, I came up with an idea I never had: A PIANO BINGO!!
It sounds a bit crazy, but this Bingo can be a great idea to motivate students to have different challenges during the year. I made one with different challenges which can be adapted depending on the level and age of the student. The goal is achieving all these challenges before the next year finishes.
To make this Bingo, I thought very carefully about the aspects I think are more important for the students’ motivation, such as support, autonomy, external motivation, inspiration, intrinsic interests, etc. In the picture below, you can take a look at a preview of this Bingo!
As I mentioned, every challenge has been chosen to boost a particular aspect which might boost students’ motivation. Here you have a summary/explanation of every challenge in the table (I invite you to read it if you are interested in using a method like this, as it helps to understand the background idea behind every challenge):
Create your own piano piece: To boost autonomy and the ability to gather all the information the student already knows to create something new.
Listen to pieces by F. Chopin and tell your teacher your favorite: To encourage students to listen to more music and to use their criteria and develop their musical taste in order to choose their favorite piece.
Learn a musical joke and tell it to your teacher: To make music more accessible for everyone and see it as an everyday thing, from which you can even make jokes. By telling it to the teacher, the relationship might turn more natural and the student might feel safer and more comfortable to be him/herself.
Play one of your pieces in 3 different tempi: slow, medium and fast!: To make them be aware of the tempo they want to choose in a piece. Some students choose a tempo just because it feels natural for them, but using this method can help them to choose with more criteria. It also helps to study difficult passages. By seeing this in the bingo, they might feel like doing it more.
Go to a piano concert: To encourage students to listen to more live music, as nowadays it is very easy to just listen to music on the Internet because everything is too accessible. Also, listening to a piano concert might inspire them and motivate them to study. It can be good for the teacher to recommend a specific concert for the student if it is not usual for him/her to go to concerts.
Practice everyday of the week and play for your family on Sunday!: This challenge helps the student to have a motivation to study during the week, as he/she will share this work with the family in the end.
Create a mashup with two of your pieces: To boost creativity. It also helps to understand the pieces better. If the student doesn’t understand the materials and patterns of a piece, it might be very difficult to make a mashup. The teacher can always help!
Take a video of yourself playing piano and send it to a friend: To share the work the student does. Sometimes, they feel that what they do remains in their study room, as they normally don’t have the opportunity to play in concerts all the time. By sharing a video with a friend or someone you get along with, you share your passion easily.
Learn a piece that a family member chooses for you: To strengthen the bond between the student and the family and to make family be part of the learning process.
Play a scale in 5 different ways (dynamics, articulation…): To boost creativity and to stop seeing scales as something boring. Normally, students end up feeling a bit unmotivated with technique exercises, but when some elements like different dynamics, articulation, rhythms, etc. are added to the game, they feel much more engaged.
Memorize a piece and surprise your teacher with it: For some students, it is very difficult to learn a piece by heart, or they are just feeling good in the comfort zone when they use the sheet music. By having the goal of surprising the teacher, they already have a reason to challenge themselves. It is important to point out: I don’t say “show your teacher”, but “surprise your teacher”, as this way the student might not feel that this is an obligation and the motivation he/she gets is healthier.
You choose: To give the student space and autonomy to choose his/her own goals as well.
Record a video of the piece you are most proud of: To help them see the good things they do and feel proud of them. This is very useful as a shock therapy for those students who only see their mistakes.
Invent lyrics for one of the pieces you are studying: This is challenging, but fruitful. These lyrics can be inspired by the rhythm of the piece, the message, the emotions it evokes, an invented story, etc. It definitely helps the student to understand and feel more connected to the piece.
Be the background music for a meal: Another way for the student to show his/her work.
Play in a concert: In my case, all my students have one or more concerts every year and this is great as an external goal that motivates them and gives them a deadline to learn certain pieces of their repertoire. If the student doesn’t have the opportunity to play in a concert, there are multiple alternatives such as playing at home for family and friends, playing in one of the pianos in the train stations, recording him/herself and sharing it, etc.
Try to change the style of one of your piano pieces: For this challenge, it is very important to understand the language of the piece, how it is composed, the patterns it has and the style. This way, the student can create a new style because he/she understands how to do it. Of course, it is great if the teacher helps.
Play a duet: To encourage the student to play with people and see that piano is not a “lonely instrument”.
Surprise your teacher with a song you learnt by yourself: To (again) boost the student’s autonomy. By choosing the piece by themselves, they enjoy it even more. By knowing that the teacher will like the idea of them learning something they like by themselves, they might feel more free and supported by the teacher.
Search pianists on YouTube and tell your teacher your favorite one: To encourage them to listen to pianists and use the Internet in a way that motivates them with piano. By choosing their favorite pianist, they are using their own criteria. In the lesson, there can be a healthy discussion teacher-student, talking about different pianists and recommendations.
Investigate 3 different facts about a composer and tell your teacher: To (again) boost the student’s autonomy to learn and discover new things, with the help and support of the teacher.
Tell your teacher the steps you follow when you study at home: To have more awareness of the student’s study method. It happens a lot that some students are not aware of the way they study. By having this challenge, they might ask themselves “How do I study? What works best for me?”. Of course, the teacher should coach this process in a lot of cases.
Draw a piano: Because it is fun!!
Teach a family member or friend how to play an easy piece: This challenge is related to the one of being aware of the study method. If the student is aware of the steps he/she needs to follow when learning or studying a piece, they will be able to transmit this to a family member or friend.
To choose all these challenges, I have read and researched motivation theories in education, which I found very interesting. Some of them are the theory of Deci and Ryan (2017) which divides motivation in extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and the constructivist theory in education of Phillips (1995) which defends that learners build new knowledge upon the foundation of previous learning. I will talk further about these topics regarding motivation in the next post!
On the other hand, as we are in Christmas times, I was thinking about how to keep students’ motivation during holidays and see piano as something to work on for fun and not as an obligation. Mostly with the very beginners, keeping their motivation during the holiday is a challenge. Boosting their motivation with piano is something that most of the teachers work on in every lesson, but it is difficult to make sure that they keep having it at home. And that is why I made a Christmas Edition for the Piano Bingo! It is thought for kids and the goals are very easy to accomplish, but they help them to be motivated at the same time! I hope you like it. I am now using it with some students, so let’s see how it turns out after Christmas!
I hope you found this resources interesting! To avoid copyright problems, I posted previews of these resources. If you find them helpful or you would like to get the New Year's Piano Bingo in high quality, click on the button below and download it for free!
Phillips, D.C. (1995). The good, the bad, and the ugly: The many faces of constructivism, 5-12.
Ryan. R.M., Deci E.L., (2017). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development and well-being, 68-78.
Thank you very much for reading. Did you find this post interesting? Let me know in the comments!