How does Better Practice work in schools? We asked one of our high school band teachers a few questions on how it worked for them in a school setting. If you are a school looking to incorporate Better Practice in your classes, ask us about our school pricing!
When did you first start using Better Practice?
I was first recommended Better Practice from a friend to use in my private studio. I started using it in the summer and absolutely loved it, so I decided to test it out at the high school with my band kids last year. Spoiler alert: it was great. The kids loved it and it was just as easy to use in a school as in my studio. With the school pricing, it was also able to fit in our budget. It was simple to set up, affordable, and the support team was amazing the entire way through the setup process.
What are your favorite features?
My two favorite features of the app have to be the chat and countdown. These were probably the most used. Students could send me questions directly, or I could send them reminders about things. It was so much easier to keep them organized and informed. Sending all those emails was a bit of a hassle or hoping they didn't lose the printout with all the information on it...Let's just say I'm not one for gambling. The countdown was great too - I used it before just about every major event, whether it was a concert, marching competition, percussion or jazz competitions, or our class party. Kept everyone in check and I did not hear one single peep of, “Oh, our concert’s tomorrow?”
How has it helped make your life easier?
In short, it’s helped make my life easier by making all of my students’ lives easier. Small things, like how I would attach the PDF versions of the music to their assignments so if they lost their sheet music (or for some, when it got totally ruined in their black hole of a backpack that all high school students seem to have), they could view it on their phone that day or print it later.
The assignment list itself was also helpful. I’m the kind of guy who throws a bunch of music at my band at the beginning of the year and then narrows it down as we near a concert. All of the students could view a list of pieces for them to practice in their portal, and I could move the assignments around or delete them while I was sitting at home thinking about a set and students would immediately be updated.
I also used the progress reports a few times when I had to have a talk with a student. I printed out their report to say, “Hey, I know you haven’t been practicing this” or “Your practice only averages about 5 minutes - try at least 15”. When you have the numbers to back it up, they can’t make excuses.
What did your students like about it?
Definitely the leaderboard. And the profile pictures. The section where everyone’s practice stats of the day pop up seemed to be a favorite. Kids within sections would often compete with each other for getting on the leaderboard. I would randomly bring in small incentives (usually snacks) for kids who ended up on the leaderboard, so that also kept them on their toes and got them actually practicing their music!
One thing I saw that surprised me was that because they can all see how much they’re practicing, the competitive ones would consistently try to beat out the top players in the class. For example, I had a student who was always second chair but always really wanted first. Once she saw that she wasn’t practicing nearly as much as the first chair gal, her practice numbers consistently became longer than the first chair’s. She improved a lot that year and actually got a spot as first chair by the end of the year!
Any final thoughts?
If you teach at a school and want to try something that’ll make your classes easier to manage, I say you should absolutely give Better Practice a chance! You get a free trial period so you can try it out with all of your students first. If you don’t like it, just cancel. There's also a free demo that you can sign up for to check it out without adding any students if you just want to take a look. Overall, my students love it and it makes my job easier, so I would recommend it to any music teacher!