What should practice accomplish between lessons? Progress.
What is progress? Improvement, betterment, advancement.
To simplify, progress is when what was perceived as HARD becomes EASY.
Use SUPPLIES to Make it EASY
The Staples “Easy Button” has set next to my piano for years. Every Fall I make a point of revisiting practice strategies–they can always be refreshed. This summer, Staples featured an “EASY Stamp” and I was smitten. So, my goal was to somehow incorporate the EASY button with the EASY stamp for a new-fangled practice strategy. Little did I know how successful this combo could be with Post-its–yet another favorite office supply.
Use a THEME to Make it EASY
This year’s Fall studio theme is Make it EASY, then practice HARD. A bulletin board next to the piano, a picture frame with a picture of an EASY button, an EASY button screen saver and of course the EASY stamp AND button have fully immersed students in this latest theme.
Use ISOLATION to Make it EASY
Playing HT (hands together) is difficult or “HARD” for pianists at any level. After EASY stamping a post-it, the pianist (let’s call her Melody) and I discuss a practice prescription for “Carefree Stroll”.
- Play RH (right hand) 3x, counting aloud
- Play LH (left hand) 3x, counting aloud
- Play HT (hands together) using EASY Post-it practice
Melody and I then briefly review the prescribed practice routine to ensure correct reading and counting, and then we give the EASY Post-it practice a try.
The Post-it is placed so that beat one of a measure is isolated and Melody is asked to play it–perfectly (fingering, rhythm, pitches, etc). To her amazement it looks EASY and yes, she succeeds at beat one HT. It is important that Melody (not just me) recognizes success, so she is asked to make her own evaluation of how she did. If she declares victory, we move on to the next beat.
The Post-it is moved to reveal beat two. Melody plays beats 1 and 2 HT. Melody evaluates the attempt and usually wants to try it one more time to ensure confidence.
Within a few minutes a measure can be mastered HT and Melody happily pushes that EASY button. In addition, she is eager to continue this strategy at home because success was discovered at the lesson. (Hint: this also works well with backwards practice!)
As you know, if it’s hard, it will most likely be avoided on the home practice bench which means no progress. Make it EASY and it will get practiced, HARD!
“That was EASY”