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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Practice Tip: Golf!

It is that time of year when it seems that there is something in the air that distracts students, parents, and teachers alike from accomplishing good practices and lessons. Perhaps the recent Thanksgiving holiday break from the regular school and lesson routine, the delicious scents of once-a-year foods, the over-the-top energetic bustle and hustle at the mall sales, the sparking colors of the town square holiday decorations, or the Christmas and holiday music piped over the store sound systems add to the students' natural tendency to get excited about the season. How to get any teaching done? How to keep everyone focused on the teaching moments?

Recently a young student and I thought of a fun game to play at his lesson, and this game made things a little more engaging for this season. I do not plan to use this game frequently, but during this holiday patch, the game came in handy.

We had our list of lesson material to cover, and there were 6 things on the list. [I like the number 6 because dice have 6 numbers on them.] We assigned a "par" value to each of the songs on the lesson assignment sheet. For example, for the song "Allegretto" in Suzuki Violin Volume One, we assigned a par value of eight to represent the seven pinkies that I require in the song and the down bow circle before the third part. Then we started keeping a scorecard of how many points the student got for that song.

How do I assign the par values for other songs? I look through each song and determine what things I want the student to remember to include in his or her playing. I assign one point for each one of those things. Teachers could assign different par values at different times depending on the skills and practice items that the teacher has assigned.

This is a holiday season for most folks, and as a teacher I find that children are a wee bit distracted at this time of year. Perhaps teachers and parents are just as distracted. This round of golf may help pull things together a time or two until the holiday break begins.

Let me know how you deal with holiday distractions. What type of activities do you incorporate in your teaching or home practices and what type of success do you find?

Happy Practicing!


Friday, December 11, 2015

Squeezing Practice Time Into a Busy Family Schedule

I thought I would link to one of my favorite posts from my dear friend, Sue Hunt. Here in this post, Sue talks about how to squeeze practice time into a busy family schedule. This post is worth printing and reading often:

Happy Practicing!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Quick Practice Tip: Rate Your Day

Here is a practice tip that might help you to find motivation to practice or to perform any desired habit. Set up a system to rank yourself each day. Here is how it works.

For this example, let us say that I am trying to lose weight. I set up a list of what I consider to be good health habits that when I follow them, I would be likely to lose weight. These habits could possibly include things like:

  • weigh daily on a scale (1 point)
  • log all food intake in a journal (1 point)
  • stay within a daily calorie limit (1 point)
  • meet any or all of the three Apple Watch activity goals (1-3 points)
  • accomplish any 20-minute period of exercise beyond the 30 minutes recorded by the Apple watch (1 point each 20-minute period)

Then I would give myself a point for performing any of the habits and thereby rating my day. I would keep a calendar that recorded my progress on these habits. I would suggest setting a minimum threshold ranking number and strive to at least attain that number.

How would this work for practice scenarios? How about making a possible list of habits to earn points from these areas?

  • playing a scale or scale assignment
  • playing a review song
  • practicing 30 minutes
  • any 15 minutes practicing beyond the initial 30 minutes
  • playing a repertoire piece
  • practicing a preview exercise or 5 minutes of a technical exercise or etude
Then I would set the minimum threshold points goal at 3, because it would be "easy" to gain points for doing a scale, review song, and 5 minutes of a technical exercise. That would be a possible 10 minutes. I firmly believe that everyone can find 10 minutes in even the busiest day.

Let me know if you try this idea and what you discover that helps. I have successfully used this technique for several months now, and I find it very encouraging to reinforce good habits.