A Blog By Chicken Wrangler Sara

When I am not taking care of the animals on Miller Farm, I spend several hours a week teaching private piano lessons. When  I was 13  I wanted to be just like my piano teacher, Mrs. Black.  It is not always easy, but I enjoy the challenge.

For instance, I started a new student this summer who is enormously creative. I had him in my music class at the private school where I teach and he once told me his mother has a bow and arrow.  She hunts for food because they don’t have any at their house.  She was quite surprised to hear this and for weeks after that I asked what they were having for dinner.

So this new student, like many others, enjoys coming to piano lessons.  I mean who wouldn’t enjoy seeing a pack of dachshunds and a flock of chickens every week.

However, practicing at home was not nearly as exciting.  His mom, the huntress, expressed some concern. She didn’t want to make it miserable for him but knew without practice, he would make little progress.  So I told her I would pull out my bag of tricks.

In this “bag of tricks” I have little individual incentive charts where students can mark each day they practice.  For some, the promise of a piece of candy for five stickers is sufficient.

I was afraid this student would not be motivated by candy.  So I came up with a new incentive.

We happened to have baby chicks in the brooder in our garage.  (I wonder how many other people on our street can say that.)  When the chart had five stickers, I promised that my student could hold a baby chick.  He was quite excited.

Then he realized that his assigned piece on this week was two pages long.  He asked what would happen if he only practiced one page.  I told him he could only hold half a chick. Fortunately he didn’t ask for details but agreed to practice the whole song.

studentSo the following week, and the two weeks since then, he has practiced five times a week.

I’m pretty sure I am the only piano teacher in the world who uses chick incentives.