Practice Tips

Practicing:

 

Playing the piano should be fun. It is also a mentally and physically demanding activity. Regular and consistent practice is essential to making progress in music, so it is important to schedule a regular daily practice time. For some students, this may be before school. Practice time should focus on currently assigned pieces, warm-ups, and theory activities. Playing familiar pieces is encouraged, but shouldn't replace learning new material.

 

Students need family support to encourage and ensure adequate practice time. Students who review their piano assignments with an adult will benefit greatly. Please inform your nanny or babysitter if a parent cannot be home during regularly scheduled practice times.

 

I understand that some weeks have more activities that compete with practice time than others. Prior to your child’s lesson, please inform me if you have had any major conflicts with practicing on a given week. This will help me plan for the lesson accordingly and avoid unnecessary conversations about the importance of practicing.

 

I hope that you will consider piano lessons equal to athletic meets, games, and other extracurricular events. Try to make practicing a positive experience rather than a punishment. Eliminate distractions such as television, computers, and phones during practice time.

 

Please call or email me if there is an assignment that is unclear. I can often clear up the confusion before the next lesson.

 

Listening:

 

I realized that for many students it's easier to turn on the television or play a video game then it is to listen to music. Actively listening to music is of equal importance to practicing. Please teach younger students how to play an mp3, CD, or tune in a station on the radio.

 

Attending concerts, listening to CDs, mp3s, the radio, and even YouTube helps to develop a young musician's understanding of music. In the modern age, listening to classic artists and recordings has become more convenient with subscription sites like Rhapsody, Spotify, Pandora and iTunes.

 

Madison has frequent performances of professional orchestras, operas, musicals, chamber music and popular music. Please help students take advantage of the resources you have at home and in our city.

 

Article:

 

This is a great article. The final 1/4 of the article describes the technique that I call "chunking" Using pennies (or erasers) to encourage repetition and mastery of small sections of music.

 

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/06/18/155282684/getting-kids-to-practice-music-without-tears-or-tantrums

 

Article:

 

This article is about "true grit" - a necessity for any pursuit that involves perseverance, including music!

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/polly-campbell/perserverance-and-grit_b_2638698.html?view=print&comm_ref=false

 

 

 

Practice Myths:

 

One of my teaching colleagues, Nate Shaw, recently wrote about some practicing myths. I think he makes some good points:

 

Why do some students seem to practice willfully, while others fight it like it's more math homework? Well, I am here to help dispel a few myths about practicing, as well as give our view on how to develop life-long learners...which is really what we hope for.

 

Myth #1: Some kids are just born good practicers. NOT TRUE. No child is born a practicer. Not Mozart, not your child. Instead, kids develop patterns of practicing. We become experts based on our habits. Practicing can become a habit. Learning can become a habit.

 

Myth #2: My child needs to practice at least an hour a day to get good. NOT TRUE. In fact, in the first two to three years, playing an hour a day might have the opposite affect, if the student grows to resent the time commitment and eventually quits. A student benefits greatly from small, bite-size learning opportunities (10 to 15 minutes) at regular intervals (5 days out of each week). We highly recommend setting the same time every day and using a timer to start and stop each session.

 

Myth #3: Every practice session needs to be productive. I should hear music being played. NOT TRUE. The practice time for a child (and for an adult for that matter) is 100% his or her time. It is time to interpret the goals of the week that the teacher and the student have set. And you, the parent, are not expected to always be able to clearly understand the game or exercise your child is tackling. And, this is key... Sometimes a student may just improvise for 10 minutes, and that is OK. He or she is building a unique relationship with music, and allowing the student to own that practice time (even if letting go requires extra patience on your part) is essential to the process.