The Dragon's Den is where everyone goes to hang out. Our Dragon's Den is part reading room, part blog, and part lecture hall, where you can come to learn. Learn from our guests, see what research has gone into creating this series, get information about about how students learn.

Pull up a chair, make yourself a hot beverage, and enjoy the read!

What Does Tracking Look Like?

Another Tracking Success

This is an example of tracking sheets in action. The image to the left is a tracking sheet used over the course of 3 weeks.

Comparing the progress on Step 10.

Week 1: Time 8:25 minutes for 20 reps, student difficulty rating 9
Week 2: 5:09 minutes, difficulty rating 6
Week 3: 2:14 minutes, difficulty rating of 1.5

At week 2 I showed the student how much time the steps were taking and that she was saying the steps were difficult. I asked her if she would like to switch to an easier piece.

This student has a busy schedule and had not been getting to the piano. 

She said that she would like to think about it for a week.

When she came for the lesson on week 3 she said, "I practiced this week, but just a little."

As we measured her times and compared them to the weeks before, she was very surprised at the difference of "just a little" made to her being able to complete steps. I also asked her ahead of time how hard she expected the next steps to be. Each time she surprised herself at how easy it was.

A side benefit to keeping track of students progress using time is being able to make reasonable decision if a piece of music is at an appropriate level. This student chose to continue with the piece. Another student who was playing the same piece chose to switch to something a little easier, with the plan of coming back to this one in a month.

Here is Step 10 of the piece, Goth Princess, which she was working on.


The Grand Piano Experiment- The Beginning

 A Grand Experiment

A Year of Teaching Steps

What would happen if I eliminated the expectation of practice and had all of my students do 20 correct repetitions of everything in their lessons?

The rules are simple: 

Students: work hard in the lesson doing 20 repetitions of small sections of music. Practice at home is nice, but not required. 

Teacher: (that would be me): Record rigorously the sections, the repetitions, the time it takes to play them.

I started two weeks ago and the experiment will continue until May.

What do I hope to get out of it? 

I am curious. I want to answer these questions and back up the answers with actual data:

  1. Will students make decent progress even if they don’t practice at home?
  2. Will students learn to practice?
  3. Will student play more at home without prompting from parents?
  4. Will students enjoy playing the piano more?
  5. Will students learn fewer mistakes?
  6. Will I teach fewer mistakes?

There may be more questions as time goes by. 

I will abandon this experiment if I see my students desperately unhappy, or I assess that they aren’t learning.