“Musical money” is either colored figures of the same size, made of paper, or toy coins or “cash” with pictures of different composers, with which a teacher or parents can reward a child’s “concrete achievements” in the process of developing physical skills.
The “concrete achievements” of a child can be the successful overcoming of any unconstructive actions during the lesson. You can agree that you pay a coin for the fact that the child does not arbitrarily jump up, for example, or does not talk and try to focus at the same time. You set the task and the duration (even a few seconds) of its implementation; then when he/she succeeds, give the child a piece of musical money.
As I have written in many different articles, the student’s attention is first directed to solving physical problems. This is an objective process. The task of the teacher or parents is to teach the child to set small, specific goals and, in the most neutral way possible, to encourage him/her to succeed.
Assessing only with praise causes the student to develop a dependence on outside opinion. Our task is to develop self-confidence in the child and the ability to self-evaluate his/her own achievements. The danger of personal assessment is also that it is emotional in nature, which means it can easily be overdosed or vice versa.
A more objective approach setting a small task is set and determining the "payment" for its implementation. Then for the successful completion of the actions, the child receives a type of confirmation that he can see and touch. This seems to us the closest to the conditions of children's street games in which no one plays give up for real.
At the age of 3-4 years old, “musical money” is best used only as a positive game: if a child performs an action, he receives a coin--if not, then he/she does not. With older children and those who are not particularly vulnerable, you can discuss the rules of the game, in which the child can lose a coin if /she misses targeted goal.
So, for example, when working on fingering in chromatic scales, a vulnerable child can be given a coin for each correctly used finger. However, a child with a healthy attitude toward his/her own mistakes can be immediately given 12 coins and the teacher can take one by one each time the child plays with the wrong finger. This will cause him/her excitement and a desire to repeat the game.
Coins or paper “cash” can help the teacher achieve flexible, non-distracting communication in the lesson and at the same time gradually help the student focus on one problem at a time. So, the child can always be given a choice in which the most progressive solution is more expensive as a “payment.”
For example, you suggest: "Do you want to just play a melody for 1 coin or play and sing it for 2?" If the child chooses to sing, but does not sing, and you sing, you can say: "Well, since I sang, you will have to pay for my work." Be sure to take a coin for your "work," but invite the child to try again to perform the same task with no help from others.
"Musical money" has to be accumulated during the lesson and must be exchanged for some element of the final “trophy” at the end. The final trophy could be a sticker in the diary, a small toy, a stamp--everything that will bring the child joy, which will last for some time after the lesson. You should not turn the final part of the lesson into bookkeeping. It is enough to count the “paper money,” for example as 1 bill = 1 point and exchange it for the final “purchase.”
The purpose of “money” to teach a child to treat any task as a “project,” in which there is a beginning, development and accomplishment that is rewarded. Associating the outcome with positive pleasure without shaming children into thinking they could have earned more or done better, develops a child’s integrity, self-confidence and lack of fear of problems.
We agree that the ultimate goal of musical education should be the love of music and the desire to perform it. However, for many children of primary preschool and school age, as well as children with disabilities, overcoming physical limitations makes it difficult to enjoy the beauty of music. Therefore, music money helps them to “eat this elephant in smaller pieces” and be rewarded every step of the way.
On the other hand, a small child is accustomed to think in concrete images. If he/she receives a butterfly, flag, coin or bill for a specific action and sees the “payments” during the lesson, he/she is strengthened in the opinion that he/she can study well.
As a rule, as the child develops and interest in classes and sees tangible successes as a beginner, the need to use musical money gradually disappears. Musical money is gradually replaced by numbers in the program, which the child learns to read and analyze quickly enough.