The EASIEST Way to Keep Students Playing in December

If you are looking for an extra source of motivation this holiday season…

Or even just over Winter Break….

Allow me to introduce you to the December Performance Challenge!

Here is the gist:

I’ve been running this for many years now and it’s proven to be

(1) popular with my students

(2) EASY for me

(3) inclusive of any faith traditions

That’s the trifecta for me!

Very simply, I have students collect signatures from anyone they play for in the month of December. The student at the end of the month with the most signatures wins a prize. For me this year, that’s $50 cash.

I also award $5 prizes to anyone achieving 30 or more signatures. This is my way of incentivizing EVERYONE to participate enthusiastically, regardless of how intense a handful of students get with the competition (and, believe me, several of them do).

Please note: Cash IS a great motivator, but I also budget ahead of time for this (from my registration fees collected in August).

You could award anything that works for you and your studio budget.

This is the only incentive I run throughout my year. I’m willing to throw a little $ at it because the idea of students sharing their music with others – especially this time of year – matters to me.

Because this has become SO popular in my studio, I’ve learned to put parameters in place to keep ultra-competitive students from missing the intended spirit of the challenge.

Enter “The Fine Print”:

  • “Performance” = playing any piece from the last year of study in its entirety
  • One signature per person (otherwise mom will sign 42 times!)
  • No pets (motivated kids will try anything!)
  • Virtual performances count, but recorded videos do not (re: sending one video to 50 people is a lovely idea, but it’s not going to score you 50 signatures). Parents can sign “as proxy” for any virtual performances.
  •  Any single performance counts as a MAXIMUM of 5 signatures (otherwise students who play for large congregations or school concerts will wipe out the competition in one night).
My 2022 December Performance Challenge Winner

Additional Thoughts:

  • Like anything, some students will get very excited about this challenge, and others will not.  Don’t be surprised if some students act indifferent. The results are worth it for those who DO participate.
  • The more excitement you can show for the contest, the better.  Don’t expect big results by simply handing out the paper and never mentioning it again.  Offer updates, reminders, and don’t forget to communicate with parents about the challenge (after all, some parents are even more competitive than their children)
  • Enthusiasm will likely grow year-to-year.  Making this an annual studio event helps you capitalize on the power of anticipation

...and that's it!
If you want to make the December Performance Challenge even EASIER for yourself, download the following printable:

This FREE download contains:

  • Teacher Instructions

  • Student Instructions

  • Signature Form (color)

  • Signature Form (black and white)