I started using weekly assignment sheets in my studio last year. I know from experience that written assignment sheets do not work for every student, but for most of my current students, they make a big difference in organizing home practice and keeping open communication with parents. Keeping a written record of projects, goals, and repertoire keeps all of us on the same page, even though we're only together for 30 minutes a week.
I thought it might be helpful to those of you considering using assignment sheets in your studio to have a roundup of some of the templates out there. For me, some of the key features of a weekly assignment sheets are:
- name and date (a way to personalize them for each student) - blocks for warm-ups or technic, a few repertoire pieces, and musicianship activities - a way to track practice time during the week
PianoPedagogy.org has a great post on using assignment sheets with several templates. In addition, Faber & Faber and Alfred have assignment books (I'm sure others do, as well). Some of these models include staff lines (for composition starters or warm-ups), the circle of fifths, keyboard legends (great for marking hand positions), and space to write messages to parents (and for parents to write messages to you!).
I used many of these models as inspiration for creating my own Piano Assignment Sheet last year. This is what I use with my students on a weekly basis. Enjoy!
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Over the last semester I became dissatisfied with my current assignment sheet method – just writing everything out on a piece of notebook paper and writing a mini practice chart at the bottom of the page each week. I believe that assignment sheets are very important, because I believe that practicing well is vital to a student’s success in piano…but, I hate spending so much time writing in a lesson. And I also hate when I know that a student hasn’t glanced at their assignment sheet all week. One week I left hidden messages in the assignment sheet saying “If you read this, ask me for a treat next week.” As you guessed, only about half of my students got a treat, and the others missed out. So how do we get our students to read their assignment sheets and actually practice what it says to practice? My first step to try and achieve this is creating a new assignment sheet. I’m going to require that all my students get a 3 ring binder for the fall that I can put this in to write on each week. A completed assignment sheet for the week would look something like this:
And hopefully it would come back the next week looking something like this:
I wanted the assignment sheet to be clear and functional. Marking off each piece everyday may seem like a lot, but I think it’s really needed. Otherwise, we have no idea if the ten minutes was all spent on one piece, 10 pieces, or just playing around at the piano. I like having the circle of fifths included, so that students can start to see the relationship of keys, even when they are just playing 5-finger patterns. In the box that says “I read this week’s assignment sheet:” I intend to ask parents to read over the assignment sheet outloud with their child after the lesson, maybe in the car on the way home, or right when they get home. They can then either initial the box, or put a sticker in the box (which I will send home with them). I got this idea from Philip Johnston’s book “The Practice Revolution” which I talk about in this post. I also wanted a way to write a specific note to the parents, and a place that they could respond if needed, that why I included to two boxes at the top right. If you like my assignment sheet, here’s a free printable for you to download:
Assignment Sheet PDF
Update, August 2015:
I’ve had several requests for the Word file of this assignment sheet so that you can tweet it as needed for your own purposes. The Word file was lost (oh no!) but for you, our dear readers, I have re-created it! I made a couple small changes, but now you can change it on your own as well. I hope this is helpful!
Spring Seals, NCTM, teaches 60 piano students ranging from age 3 to 70 in Fort Worth, Texas. She also serves as the Director of Certification for TMTA. She is passionate about helping teachers become more effective in their studios through professional development, new resources, and fresh ideas.