From time to time, all music students struggle with creating a successful practice routine at home. Spending many hours working at their music, the results may vary. The lists within this article have working within my piano studio to help students create a successful practice routine that will save time and also encourage fun experiences.
Suggestions for teachers to consider:
1. Practice means REPETITION, such as any physical action dictates.
2. If we play something enough times properly, the fingers learn to do the action automatically.
3. The fingers are the orchestra; as the teacher, we are the conductor telling the orchestra members what to do.
4. The experienced musician may be able to look at a piece of music and be able to read and interpret the many aspects of the material very quickly; with some practice of the challenging sections of the piece, it will be mastered quickly.
5. Beginner students are mostly interested in learning the notes properly; most of the suggestions of interpretation must come from the music teacher.
How can we encourage the student to practice?
1. Active portions of the lesson should be utilized to show how to practice portions of the piece; the teacher should remember what was assigned the week before.
2. Repetition must always be encouraged.
3. Challenges should be taught to be dealt with in isolation, one at a time.
EFFECTIVE PRACTICE = EFFICIENT PRACTICE
4. Practicing should be organized by the activity and not the amount of time spent on something.
5. Slow practice is important.
6. Use a practice planner so that there is clear communication between the teacher, the student, and the parent as to the weekly expectations.
7. Details should be included when necessary.
What learning environment will encourage a successful practice session?
1. A quiet space with plenty of light.
2. No electronic distractions, such as cell phones, t.v., or tablets should be present during home practice (unless an app on an electronic device has been assigned to be used by the music instructor)
3. Practice at a time of day that creates musical creativity. This will vary from student to student. Some students prefer to work at night, other students prefer to work during the day (morning or afternoon). Make sure to find the time of day that suits your schedule, this will allow the practice sessions to be fun and not “a chore”.