Practice Tools

1. Practicing needs to be seen as an essential feature of a valued long-term activity. It needs to be regular, preferably daily, but in the early stages for no more than 12–15 minutes per day.
2. Parents intending to supervise home practice would be advised to have an involvement in lessons, in order to pick up suggestions and strategies modelled by the teacher.
3. To be effective, the parental level of involvement in lessons may only need to consist of discussion with and feedback from the teacher, rather than always sitting in. Parental involvement in practice, where present, is likely to be weaned off between the ages of eleven and thirteen.
4. Encourage small-section rather than whole-piece practice.
5. Encouraging with praise should be oriented towards what specific aspects were successful (encouraging learning or task goals) rather than the child seeking to please in general or expecting extrinsic rewards (performance or ego goals).

Check out our goal setting and practice chart page.  Goal Setting and Practice Chart

Mental PracticeResearch tells us that mental practice works our brains almost as much as real practice. And unlike real practice, you won’t get tired from mental practice and you can do it anywhere. To mentally practice (I sometimes call this pretend violin), you can hold your instrument but no bow. Finger the notes and pretend to bow. Do this while singing the notes as well. It works really well, it’s fun and it helps brains learn.

Mental PracticeThis one is better for children who are fully capable of setting themselves up to play. Tell your child that they can practice anywhere – anywhere at all! You will come and find them and you will hunt them by following the music. Some fun places to hide: in a closet, in the bath tub, etc. Those with bigger instruments will have to be a little more creative. It is also fun to switch the roles and have your child try to find you!

CommunicationCommunication! Never ask a question that can be answered with a no. Instead of “Do you want to practice now” say “Let’s go practice now” or even better, you just go play their instrument. They will come wandering in to see what you are doing! If you want them to work on a repetition of something you can say, “How many times do you think you can play that?”

Sticky Note PracticingSticky note practicing! Write down your practicing goals on sticky notes, one note per task. Then place all the sticky notes on the wall and read through them for your child. Let your child pick one at a time, or have them put them in the order they want. This is a great way to let your child feel in control of their practicing, while still accomplishing your goals for the week!