Well, piano lessons with the Spanish congregation are still going, but recently we teachers took the time to re-evaluate where we are headed, and our expectations for this class. We decided that if the students don't practice more, we could be teaching this class for years and never finish our objectives. Our goal is to help them finish the course book that we have. Once we give them that foundation, our hope is that they will be able to continue on and build upon that to be able to play for their congregation. The course includes a book of simplified hymns, that they should be able to play after completing the course. As we looked at what we have left to cover, and how slowly we are moving ahead, we once again realized that we have to get them to practice more.
One thing we teachers decided was that there had to be an expectation for a minimum of practice time each week. We decided that the bare minimum for practice would be 1 hour a week. If they do not do one hour of practice, then when they come to class, they will not be allowed to have a lesson, but will be asked to spend the time practicing instead. I think this is more than fair, especially considering that 1 hour a week amounts to 15 minutes of practice daily for 4 days. Even the busiest of them can do that much. When I was a piano student, my teacher required 30 minutes a day. I do believe that if I hadn't done that, she would have stopped teaching me.
I thought about this for a few days, and decided I wanted to encourage them to want to practice, so I came up with a plan. I introduced to them the "Great Piano Practice Competition". We have a poster with two thermometers drawn on it. Each line on the thermometer equals 1 hour of practice. One thermometer shows the amount of practice the teachers put in during the week, and one shows the amount of practice the students put in. We have 5 teachers, and over 12 students. So far, the teachers are winning, but at least the students have gotten in their one hour a week minimum. When the first team reaches 60 hours, the other team has to bring them treats the next week. I can almost taste those treats already!