The iMusic Challenge- New incentive program and GIVEAWAY!

by | Jul 23, 2015 | Lesson Ideas, Studio Ideas | 26 comments

I am so excited to introduce you to my fellow piano teacher and friend, Christy Hacay, and the new incentive program that has been a big hit in her studio, the iMusic Challenge.  This program speaks to the technology-based learning that many piano teachers are incorporating into their studio. Students are really responding to this program! I sat down to interview Christy, and I know you will just love reading her ideas and how she uses this awesome resource in her studio.

Find out how you can get this resource for your studio.  Plus, for three lucky teachers….there’s a GIVEAWAY! This is the first giveaway at the Fun Key Music blog!  Just comment below for your chance to win the iMusic Challenge for your studio!

Christy Hacay (left) and Heather Nanney (right) with Fun Key Music


Hi Christy! Thanks for sitting down and chatting with me today! First of all, could you tell us a little about yourself and your studio.

Hi Heather! I’m excited to talk with you! I started teaching when I was 16, so I’ve been doing this for quite a while! Teaching is my absolute passion and I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love. My studio is in my home, where I have 2 pianos…an acoustic studio piano and a high end digital piano. I currently have 35 students, ranging in age from 6-68. I offer a comprehensive curriculum and love to incorporate technology into the lessons whenever possible.


What are your favorite things about being a piano teacher?

There are so many! Sharing the gift of music is so rewarding…here are a few of my favorite things. Seeing a students face light up and hearing them say, “That is soooo pretty” or “I want to play THAT” when they hear a piece they love. Seeing a student experience the pure joy that music making can bring. Having the “ah-ha” moments when a student grasps a particular concept. Helping a student overcome challenges and teaching them that constructive practice yields results. Seeing a student become more self confident. The personal relationships that develop. I love each and every one of my students and getting to work with them is a privilege that I take seriously.


What are some of your struggles with teaching?

I think it would be students that are over-scheduled. There are so many activities to choose from and parents seem to want their child to experience them all, which unfortunately can lead to a child not having enough time to devote to any activity to really excel at it.

I also sometimes struggle with not having enough time with a student. Traditionally lessons are once a week for 30 minutes. Why is that? Music lessons are the only activity I can think of that has only 30 minutes with the instructor. Sports practices, gymnastics, dance, karate, etc. all work with children for a minimum of an hour. Not to mention that many of these activities meet more than once a week. I had a student tell me yesterday that she had 12 HOURS of dance instruction over the weekend! I couldn’t help but think how much more musical she would be if she could devote even a fraction of that to piano.

Nearly half of my students take either 45 or 60 minute lessons. Having the longer lessons makes such a difference for them AND for me. I wish there more hours in the week!


Tell me about your yearly incentive program and how you came up with the idea for your latest program, the iMusic Challenge.

Each year I implement a new incentive program in the studio. The students seem to like it and now expect something new and exciting each year! With the popularity of the iPad, I was inspired to to create the iMusic Challenge. Each student received a blank (paper) iPad at the beginning of the school year. I printed them on nice heavy paper and 3 hole punched them for students to keep at the front of their assignment binders. Each week students can earn a “music app sticker” to add to their iPad. The app stickers can be earned by doing the following 3 things…

1. Practice ALL of the assignments. One of my pet peeves is to have a student “forget” to practice their scales or choose to not work on a particular piece because “they didn’t get to it”, etc. This simple rule has made a remarkable difference and I don’t hear those excuses as often.

2. Practice most days of the week. I really prefer a 5-6 days of practice a week, so I’m being generous with this one. Students mark their practice times on their assignment page and a parent signs it.

3. Show progress on everything. This should be easy if they do #1 and #2. There’s room for 30 app stickers on the iPad.

At the May Recital, students that have filled their iPad will be recognized. The program is designed to be really simple and progress oriented. It can also be easily customized for different studios. It could be used to track pieces learned or used for scales, chords, cadences, etc. The beauty of an incentive program is to make it work for the teacher. Students like the visual of the iPad and the colorful stickers. This incentive program really appeals to them.


What have been the reactions from your students with the iMusic challenge?

Students (and their parents) really like it. The kids love getting their music app sticker. It does help hold them accountable. It’s so quick and easy at the end of the lesson to ask them if they’ve earned their app sticker this week. They know the rules. I’ve had a couple instances where the student didn’t look at their assignments and forgot to practice something. They felt bad about not receiving their sticker, but understood why and it didn’t happen again the next week.


Can teachers purchase the iMusic Challenge?

Yes! The music app stickers are available for $5.00 for a sheet of 80 stickers or 3 sheets for $13.00 (plus $2.50 for shipping). The stickers are printed on a nice quality high gloss label. They could be used solely as reward stickers as well. With a sticker purchase, I will include a pdf file of the iPad. Payment can be made via PayPal ( or personal check (e-mail Christy for her home address.)



Here’s what the iPad file and stickers look like! Super cute!

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