Practicing

Tips for how to practice well, or how to encourage students to practice

When you play music, how do you think about the beat?  Musicians often think of the beat note as the beginning of something, probably because of written music.  After all, the beat note begins every measure, and beamed notes usually connect the beat note with those that follow.

But is that how we hear it?  Is that how we play it?  Maybe most revealing, is that how we sing it?  Not really.  But I suspect that whichever way we think about this can make a big difference in how we play, practice, and teach music. 

Think of the sentence, “The cat climbed up to the top of the tree.”  If you wrote the rhythm of this sentence in music, it would look like this:

             cat rhythm [···]

Read More

Connie, from Connie’s Violin Page, has recently archived several sets of informal surveys from music teachers around the world.

I found it very interesting to see what other teachers in different parts of the world charge for lessons, what their practicing habits are, and what students think makes a good teacher.

Take a look at the results! Maybe you’ll find something useful to help you in your own studio. [···]

Read More

Do you provide practice charts to your students? Do you have them make their own charts? Or do you have them mark their practicing into a lesson book?

Sometimes I use charts, and would like to use them more often. They’re very helpful for many students. We all know that practice results in progress, but having a written record of practicing rewards us with concrete evidence of having put in the time.

My motto about practicing is, “The more you play, the better you get; and the more you play correctly, the faster you get better.”

Not everyone would agree with me. Some feel that if you play a lot with bad habits, you’ll get worse. But I think that if someone plays a lot, it’s because they enjoy it, and habits are fixable, especially if someone has the motivation that comes from enjoyment of the instrument. On the other hand, some people who are dedicated to perfect habits can also be so afraid of making mistakes that they don’t practice enough to make progress and enjoy themselves.

What should a practice chart display? The number of minutes spent practicing per day? I think only a few students respond well to demands that they practice a certain number of minutes per day. Sometimes this demand just chills the motivation of students. It happened to my daughter, anyway.  She used to  [···]

Read More