This is Your Brain… on Music! (Part 1)

The countdown to the new school year has begun…  

Judging from the crowd at the teacher supply store last week, I’m not the only one who has kicked into planning mode for the year!  I’ve spent the last couple of weeks cleaning and organizing my studio and prepping student materials – including putting the finishing touches on materials for a new studio incentive program.  Since I know many of you are working on similar projects, I thought I’d share what we’ll be working on this year, in case it provided a bit of inspiration. 🙂

This is Your Brain on MUSIC!

This is a syllabus-based incentive program.  The printable goal sheet below gives students a fun, visual way to keep track of their goals for the year, and learn a little bit about the different parts of their brain involved in music-making along the way.   Each different musical skill (sightreading, rhythm, ear training, etc.) is linked to a corresponding region of the brain:

Student Goal Sheet

As we work toward each of these goals, students will get to check, tally and add stickers to the sheet.  By the end of the year, these should be VERY colorful!  

If you look closely, you’ll notice several blanks and white spaces on the sheet with space to write in customized goals for each student.  Here’s a look at a sheet with technique goals added:

For an added bit of fun, I also made these colorful Cranium Coins, pictured below.  Each time a student checks a goal off of their sheet, they’ll get to add a coin to a big collection tank in the studio.  If students earn a collective 1,000 coins or more over the course of the school year, we’ll celebrate with an extra group lesson at the end of our spring semester… complete with “brainy” finger foods and a musical game of Cranium!

The files for the Student Goal Sheets and the Cranium Coins are available below, as well as on the Studio Aids page.   They’re available in both PDF and MS Publisher formats.  If you use Publisher and would like to adapt this for your own studio, feel free to edit!  

The Student Goal Sheets print on 11 x 17 tabloid-size paper.    I usually have my incentive sheets printed at a local UPS Store, as my home printer doesn’t accommodate tabloid paper.  If you prefer to print these at home, you can change your printer settings to print on multiple sheets and use 2 standard-sized pages of typing paper.   The sheets fit quite nicely inside the clear cover on a 3-ring binder, or can be folded and slipped inside a clear plastic page protector.

For the Cranium Coins, you’ll need a 1 1/2″ circular craft punch (available at hobby and craft stores).  Make sure that your printer is set to “no scaling”, so that the coins print at their full size.

And… for any of you who take a closer look at the Goal Sheet and wonder what materials I’m using for each of the different categories (i.e. Rhythm Packets and Creative Projects), stay tuned!  I’ll be sharing more in a follow-up post later this week.


Cranium Coins (edit friendly)
Cranium Coins (edit friendly)
Version: MS Publisher File
242.5 KiB
Cranium Coins
Cranium Coins
Cranium Coins.pdf
Version: PDF File
576.3 KiB
This is Your Brain on Music! Goal Sheet  (edit friendly)
This is Your Brain on Music! Goal Sheet (edit friendly)
This is Your Brain on MUSIC! Tabloid
Version: MS Publisher File
204.5 KiB
This is Your Brain on Music! Goal Sheet
This is Your Brain on Music! Goal Sheet
This is Your Brain on MUSIC!.pdf
Version: PDF File
453.6 KiB


This is Your Brain… on Music! (Part 1) — 25 Comments

  1. Wow! So creative! 🙂 Thank you for including the pictures as well… your blog is so colorful and cheerful! (P.S. How do you find time for teaching and blogging… I can’t seem to manage both *at all* LOL)

  2. This looks SO fun! Rats … I thought I had decided what I was going to do this year, and now I’m torn!
    On a serious note — thank you for mentioning that there IS such a thing as a “1 1/2 inch circular craft punch” — I would have been cutting these out with scissors …. 🙂

  3. I’m so excited!! I love your incentive programs and have used each one in my studio. They work so well. 😀 Thank you for making these available.

  4. Thanks, everyone, for your kind words! I’m really excited to get these into my students’ hands in a few weeks. Hope all of you that decide to use this enjoy!!

  5. I loved using your Mission Music Program last year & this one looks fabulous as well! I hope you post some details on your Music Cranium game in the future :). I designed and blogged about one a few years ago that I used at group lessons, but my design & tech savvy skills are unfortunately a bit lacking 🙁

  6. Jennifer, thanks so much for sharing this. I was in the process of planning my student notebooks this morning and thought about checking your blog for ideas. This is just what I needed! Kudos!

  7. Pingback: It’s all about the brain | LaDona's Music Studio

  8. I love this idea for my studio and wanted to download the Edit Friendly version, but I do not have MS Publisher. I tried to download the free trial version, but it really isn’t free. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Bonnie,

      Unfortunately, I don’t know of any programs (other than Publisher) that will read Publisher files. I’ve had a couple of other folks ask, and so far we haven’t run across anything that’s worked. Your best bet might be to try to find a friend or colleague who has a fairly new copy of MS Office – Publisher is included in most new copies. Sorry I’m not more help!!

      Jen Fink

  9. Pingback: Binder cover | LaDona's Music Studio

  10. Pingback: Jump-Start Your January! -

  11. I would like to use the “Brain on music” incentive for my piano students. I would like to use this for my students but I need some advice on modifications on for what is expected for each category. I would like to know how others may have modified e.g. the Creative Side. What is a reasonable number to put in for songs to learn this year? Anything anyone could share that they have used would be greatly appreciated!

  12. Pingback: Favorite Piano Websites « Dorla's Piano Studio

  13. I like this because it is educational, goal-oriented, and appeals to all ages. I have found it difficult with older students with concepts like a music “store.”

  14. Pingback: Shoot for the Stars Visual Syllabus & Incentive Program -

Leave a Reply