music & ...report cards!?

I don't know a single sane human teacher that genuinely enjoys writing report cards.

How is a report card, (mainly & usually associated with school for 'academic' subjects such as math, science, English, etc.) useful when applied to music & the arts?


Recently, I received a request to produce a report card (monthly) for a four-year old student.
 With mixed feelings, I agreed.

Post-agreement thoughts: "what were you thinking?!"

Current thoughts: this isn't such a bad idea, as a music edumacator, my main focus is having the student accomplish musical goals, like learning the music alphabet, theory, note values, etc., not having to assess behaviour, listening skills, and participation. However, when the four-year old (newly enrolled into kindergarten this year) heard the two words "Report Card", there was a certain spark that ignited inside. It was as if these 'piano lessons' were no longer just 'for fun' where he could fool around & be silly, but he now had certain expectations for himself.

The semi-dread/fear/responsibility somehow set this student in a 'classroom' frame of mind and was ready to learn. Instead of bribes of sweet treats to listen, he was now listening on his own because he knew his parents would be getting this piece of paper.

To turn the dreaded Report Card around a little bit, I've decided to keep the structure/expectations of my report card similar to that of the Primary Education layout: G/S/N grading system & room for comments on the students Behaviour (piano posture, hand posture, general classroom behaviour), Listening (active listening, following directions), Participation (proper piano playing, trying suggestions for better/easier playing), and Independence (unpacking/packing up, music mapping, setting up hands for a song, consistent piano practice). Included is also an area for comments on Strengths, and "Let's Try Again". Also at the very bottom, an area to highlight Musical Accomplishments.

After having created this Report Card, a few other students come to mind whose parents might also appreciate this idea. Not only will it allow parents to see how their child is behaving in lessons, but also to see what they've learned and what they need to work on. Especially since (through my experience) about 80% of parents who enroll their child into music, have no idea what Music entails.




Final Thoughts:
Report Cards help the teacher by further organizing the direction of learning for the student. 
                      help the teacher by instilling self-want (where the child wants to do something themselves, 
                             not because they've been bribed or told)
                      help the parent by informing them of their child's musical progress, as well as other skills