A Note from Quaver: A(nother) Note on Practice (Part II)

by Abby @ Quaver on September 26, 2011

in Quaver's Notes

If you missed Part 1 of Quaver’s thoughts on Practice, catch up on them here!

More Practice!

And now . . . Part II from Quaver:

So once you have actually superglued Charlie to the piano seat and promised a trip to Disneyland, the actual PRACTICING finally begins – but what makes good practice, and what is bad practice?

How do we make our 10 minutes per day the best it can be?

In fact practicing properly can mean we practice less, learn pieces quicker and improve faster!!

Here are some ideas.

  • If you hear Mildred playing the piece over and over again with the same mistakes that is not practice – in fact that is practicing mistakes so the mistakes become part of the piece instead of the piece itself. It’s a bit like allowing your child to say “To be or not to be that is the fishmonger” at the school play without correcting them . . . we all know it’s “fishslice!”

I hear a whimpering cry from parents world wide!

  •  When you hear Johnny complain, “I don’t know how it should sound, it’s not like reading,” remember you’re probably more musical than you think. Ask the teacher to play the piece little Johnny is playing so you can hear it properly.
  • There are basically 2 mistakes to listen out for when Mildred is practicing
  1.  Rhythm –  if you can’t tap a steady beat to the piece as they play (when they are beginners) it is probably wrong.
  2. Playing Wrong Notes – One note may stand out, just say . . . “STOP: are you SURE that note is right?”

A good tip is to isolate the difficult parts and ONLY play those.

Other ways to mix up practice and make it fun:

  • Try the 5 times game – play a difficult passage perfectly 5 times, if at ANY time a mistake is made the player goes back to number 1 – that can be fun!!
  • Play add a note – start with the first note, then the first and second, etc. (This can take all of the 10 minutes!)
  • Practice hands separately – It stands to reason, if you can’t play the right hand on it’s own, you have no chance of doing it hands together!
  • Practice slowly – one perfect play through dead slow is better than 10 plays through with mistakes. After all how can we play a piece perfectly fast unless we can play it perfectly slowly? (I used to play a piece called Carnaval by Schumann, it took me 2 hours to play it through once slowly)

Follow these tips and even though practice times will take more concentration, they will be shorter and more productive.

Oh by the way – outside of practice time, any time your children spend playing any type of tune is a bonus!

Do you have any tried and true tips for making practice productive for your students?

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