Starting this week, my students have a 28-day break from piano lessons. In additions to the normal 2 weeks that they have off of school, I take a 3rd week off and spend the week planning and prepping for the spring semester. It really helps me to start the year out strong!

This year, since I’ve shifted my practice philosophy from “practice when you can” to “practice everyday”, I wanted to help my students be successful and stay motivated during their 28-day break.

After I saw ViolinJudy’s cute pill box practice treats, it got my wheels turning to come up with something to reward my students for practicing over their break.

I tossed around a lot of ideas, but finally decided to use coin envelopes to hold 28 little surprises for my students. I liked that weren’t transparent, so each treat would be a surprise.

I labeled a set of envelopes for each student that began on the day of their last December lesson and went through the day before their next lesson in January.

Over the past few weeks, I shopped around for small treats and objects that would fit inside the envelopes.

I stuffed each envelope with the treats, put them in a bag and students are taking them home this week. They’ve been instructed to open the corresponding day’s envelope after they practice. If they don’t practice on a given day, they’ll leave it in the bag and bring it back in January. I’ll probably find a way to let them re-earn the unopened envelopes in future lessons.

I’ve gotten my students Christmas gifts in the past, so the envelopes were fun and different alternative this year. I managed to make almost all 28 envelopes different. Most students only had 1 of 2 repeated surprises. Some treats were edible, some weren’t. Some we quirky, some were practical, some we’re just for fun.

I personalized each set and chose items I thought each individual student would like.

Here are some things that went in the envelopes:

  • Iwako Eraser
  • fake mustache
  • chapstick
  • elephant-shaped paperclip
  • decorative clothes pins
  • nailpolish
  • a music note charm
  • stickers (I tried to find puffy, shiny or sparkly stickers to make them a bit more exciting that your average sticker)
  • a small ornament
  • fun character band-aids
  • washi tape
  • toy dinosaur
  • dice
  • mini Star Wars tape dispenser
  • confetti (for the Dec. 31 envelope)
  • hair clips
  • bouncy balls
  • finger puppets
  • felt and foam stickers
  • mini post-it notes
  • Goldfish pretzels
  • sticks of gum
  • candy – M&Ms, sixlets, chocolates, candy canes, kisses, starbursts, tootsie rolls, skittles, smarties.

I sent home a flier in each bag that has instructions for what to do each day:

  1. Turn on Better Practice App
  2. Practice piano (I gave tons of suggestions for things students could do both at the piano and away from the piano. I emphasized that it’s ok to be in “maintenance mode” over the holidays.)
  3. Open your surprise for the day
  4. Take a picture and post on social media with #28daysofpianopractice (this step is optional, but should be fun to check in on!)
  5. Enjoy making music!

My ultimate goal is that I want my students to learn to love music, enjoy the process of learning, be creative and discover peace that music brings. I hope that they experience all of these things in their #28daysofpianopractice.



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