The Power of Praise in Students Practice

Lesson resources, Musings, Practice, TeachersPayTeachers, Tips


Think of the last time someone praised you on something you accomplished whether big or small. When was the last time you received an email or perhaps a note in the mail from someone saying how proud they are of you? Or perhaps offered a word of encouragement for something you were struggling with?

Now think of how it made you feel?

Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, cites a study that says when children first start school, they score up to 80% in the self-esteem category. By the time they reach 5th grade, the children scored only 20% and by high school it went down to 5%.

These are pretty scary numbers! So how can we as teachers help those percentages go up? Better yet, how can we help our students feel more confidant in their music lessons? That they ARE capable and they CAN do it!

Praise can be a POWERFUL thing when it is done right.

Changing HOW We Say Things

Nick Ambrosino, Author of Coffee with Ray and Lessons with Matt talks about what he calls, a Diamond Distinction.

Blue Diamond

Changing little words that totally change the way a student hears something. An invitation to do something versus a feeling of “not good enough.” A great example is replacing the word “but” with the word “and”.

I liked how you played this piece but we need to add in dynamics vs. I liked how you played this piece and now we get to add in the dynamics. 

Did you see how the first way with “but” immediately closed things off, possibly even causing a student to be defensive? Whereas, the “and” provides an invitation, possibly even creating a cause to celebrate.

Nick explains in episode 26 podcast with Tim Topham that a compliment has a judgement attached to it. It’s easier to brush off. “Great job!” (not really…) A validation, however takes more thought and it sticks to a student who doesn’t have the belief in themselves. It’s a statement of feeling. “When you played it that quickly, I felt really excited.

I highly recommend you put aside an hour to hear more from Nick Ambrosino with on the episode 26 podcast. It is packed with value.

The Unexpected 

I don’t know about you, but when I receive an unexpected thank you card in the mail or a note from someone in my message box it totally lifts my spirits that entire day.

Many times our students hear the same thing coming from our mouths each week. So much so that sometimes they don’t “hear” us anymore. Wouldn’t it be great to pop in a little unexpected note when they open up their music to practice? Whether it is telling them they are on the right track, or you can see they have been working hard recently or that mistakes are okay; that you know they are trying. A note of praise and encouragement can go a long way and maybe it will even motivate them to do their best in their practicing that week.

I recently created some practice praise cards that I plan on keeping handy and ready to go on occasions where I notice a student needs that little extra boost in their week. After writing a personal note on the back, I’ll simply slip on a card inside their music when they aren’t looking at the end of their lesson.




I made some practice praise cards that you can download and use with your students for free. Just click on the picture below to download.praisecardsamplepack

The practice praise cards are little notes to encourage students during their practice week. After I made these I started getting carried away and created over 60 cards! So if you like the freebie and want even more, you can check out the complete pack.

Practice Praise Cards

Remember to take the time to write a short note on the back to validate your praise and encourage. Be specific in what you want your student to know. Whether it is praising them for their efforts, encouraging them to do more or validating what they are doing now, students will appreciate them and hopefully their self-esteem will be boosted.

There is a quote that is my absolute favorite and I always have it printed in the back of my students assignment book each year. Attitude by Charles Swindoll. (You can download it for free by clicking on the quote below)



Positive attitude and a healthy self-esteem can go a long way in a child’s life. (Let’s face it, in our lives too!) The power of praise and encouragement is real.


Be sure to check out Practice Makes Perfect, or Does It? A practice workshop teachers can use with their students to help set them up for success at home!


*The amazon affiliate links included help me share reviews such as this one and keep this blog going. It does not affect your purchase price or the authors royalties in any way.  Thank you for your support and happy teaching!

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