Since you already know that I’m a huge fan of assignment books, I thought I’d give you a little peak into one of my recent assignment books, Captain Crescendo.
Captain Crescendo was drawn by my friend, the talented, Meghan Grayless. I told her about my vision for my musical superhero, and she delivered!
The object of the program is to develop your Musical Super Powers: Persistent Practice, Stellar Sight Reading, Rocking Rhythm, Terrific Theory and Superb Scales. These are specific skills that I saw a need to work on among my students. I can think of many other possible Music Super Powers to work on, but I thought these would be the most beneficial across the board.
On these Super Power Meters, the teacher can check off days of practice and completed assignments.
Each week of lessons, a student is working from the 2 pages of assignment pages. On the left, you can see all of the super powers. This is where the teacher would assign a couple of super powers to work on for the week, or at the lesson.
In my Piano Lessons/Lab, all students stay for a full hour, so there is plenty of time to work on assignments. We usually do 2-3 super powers each week.
Here are ways my students complete these assignments:
- Stellar Sightreading: Using a digital piano and headphones, students work their way through a sight reading book. In the picture above, I had written “Recording” because I let my student work on making a recording in the place of her sight reading assignment. (Also, all the numbers you see are actually scores from the rhythm app. This particular student wrote her rhythm scores above the rhythm section.)
- Rocking Rhythm: Generally, I have students work at their appropriate level on the Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer App. Occasionally, I like to incorporate group rhythm games or drills with all 3 Piano Lessons/Lab students at once.
- Superb Scales: A students scale assignment for the week is usually written on the Persistent Practice chart, but I use this space to elaborate on what they need to do. I printed out these handy keyboard labels, so I can write out fingerings and stick them in this section. Sometimes, I also specify which chords, arpeggios, etc. should be played along with the scale. (The student above is a brand new beginner so she was only playing the 5-finger scale.)
- Terrific Theory: This is typically a general theory assignment, although I kind of use this category as a catch-all for other assignments. For example, there isn’t a super power for listening assignments, so when I give a listening assignment, I put it in this category. Theory assignments might be written, online or using an app. Sometimes I’ll have several students play a game together that I would consider a theory assignment, such as one that involves using flash cards, naming intervals or spelling chords.
The right side of the assignment pages is dedicated to the Persistent Practice super power – it’s an important one!
In the left column of the chart, I write the scales and pieces that the student is working on for the week. The student checks off which days of the week they practiced.
There’s a nice space a the bottom for communicating with parents or writing a reminder for myself about something we need to accomplish next week.
When a student shows me their completed assignment page each week, I check for a parent signature, and usually while we are chatting about how practice went for the week, I check off the super powers in the front of the assignment book.
The goal for the school year is to get 200 points to earn a CD. Each set of 20 points earns a student a recording for the CD.
When a student has 20 check marks from any of the 5 categories, I highlight those 20 check marks, they move the arrow on their super power meter and record a song. (No picture, but each student has a super power meter displayed on the wall. It’s kind of like an speedometer with 10 sections. There is an arrow attached with a brad, so they move the arrow to each new section for every 20 points they earn.)
So there’s our pal Captain Crescendo. He helped me produce a studio full of musical super heroes. If you’re interested in bringing him to your studio, he’s available for sale in the Pianissimo Store!