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#17 Make your Practicing like a Video Game!

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

By Christy | The Practicing Pro

Why is it that children just can't stop playing a video game?

Did you know that we can use the knowledge of video games in our home music practice sessions and music lessons?

We can use the exact same strategies in both!

Super Mario Effect

Have you heard of the Super Mario effect?

There was a study done by Mark Robber where he looked at how to motivate people to use the Super Mario video game.

He had 2 games that were almost the same.

In the first game, you would start with 250 points.

The goal was to get to the end keeping as many points as possible. Every time you fail you would lose 5 points.

The second version also started with 250 points.

Instead of being penalized for each mistake or failure, you gain points by completing challenges.

The goal was to earn as many points as you could on your way to the end! Nothing happens if you fail, you just have to get back up and keep going.

Which group did better?

Which group do you think did better? It was the second group! Mark Robber proved that once you give a reward, you can't take it back without a negative outcome. Those that played the second game wanted to play the game 2.5 times MORE than the group that played the second game because they were only rewarded – and not penalized!

It's the SAME with Practicing

A child must always feel that when they make a mistake, there will be no negative consequences and that they just get to try again. Mark Robber proved that in this environment, a child will be more apt to finish the goal and finish their practice session without problems.

Applying the Super Mario Effect

So remember, Applying the Mario concept to the words that you use in practicing time is exactly the same. Using words that make you feel like you have failed or disappointed has the same effect as losing 5 points. But using words that make you feel accomplished or have more motivation has the same effect as gaining 5 points!

Here is the end goal - get to the princess.

No one cares how many pits Mario falls into. The fun is to fall and try again, over and over and over. BUT once you get over the pit WOW!!! You figured it out. Then next time you play you know how to get through that spot and you get a little further, and a little further...each time! The feeling is great!

Parents and Teachers

Remember, when your player is jumping across those pits and falling in, and then trying it again in a different way, don't take back a penny or a pompom! Instead, reward their attempts with your approval! Use your language to encourage children that they are trying different ways and jumping again until they get to the next level.

You got this! When you feel anxious or agitated – remember that we are all born knowing how to practice, and wanting to! Trying different ways of jumping is your child and student learning how to problem solve and all it takes is a bit of encouragement.

INVITATION from Christy Hodder:

DIGITAL COURSE - Practicing Pro Academy

Speaking of amazing practices, let me tell you all about the digital course I built and teach called "Practicing Pro Academy". It is an at-your-own-pace, six-week online course for teachers and students that will bring you even more successful practices with your players! I am also with you in person the whole time with weekly Q&As to answer all of your questions. It only runs a few times a year so you don't want to miss the next time! I offer a free Masterclass to kick off each course. You can join the waitlist here.

Free PDF download

Checklist for an Amazing Music Practice

Your easy checklist to have successful home music practices from Christy, the practicing pro. Whether you are a new or seasoned practice parent this checklist will help you organize before, during, and after practices for effective and fun practices.


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