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Friday, January 25, 2013

Quick Practice Tip: Study Cards

Written by Paula E. Bird ©2013
Recently, a few of my parents and students got excited about making their own set of study cards. I provided the small cards and connecting rings, and the students made up their own batches of cards. Here is an example of how one mom put together study cards for her two book 1 students:

Here are the Twinkle Variations. I am a big fan of the Twinkles as a regular part of the practice program because Twinkles cement the foundation of the student's technique. Many technical problems can be cleaned up miraculously merely by playing two Twinkle variations per day, whether the student were in book 1 or book 6.

New Songs are the cards that the students are currently working on. These cards represent the most recent four songs that the students have learned or are learning. As the students polish each new song, we will eventually add new songs to this batch and transfer the polished songs to the review list.

These are the review cards, and I thought this parent had a creative idea to call this batch "Oldies but Goodies." Everyone has a different approach to review, but for this family, a systematic review program works well. The parent makes notes on the backs of the cards about teaching points and practice goals.

I purchased the rings and small cards at a teacher supply store, but these items are also available at some office supply stores and university bookstores.

Happy Practicing!


  1. My daughter is near the end of book 4. Review is something we haven't always been very good about, but we've finally come up with a strategy that seems to be working. A few months ago, I wrote down every title of every tune she's ever learned on little pieces of paper, and folded the papers. She has 2 candy dishes, and each day as part of her practice, she takes a piece of paper (one 'old' tune) from the not-yet-played dish, plays it & works on it a bit, then puts it into the 'played' dish. When the first dish is empty, we switch the labels.

    1. Hi, Amanda! I had a student (now a science major at university) who did the same thing, except that she would go through her stack of papers and pull out the ones she did not enjoy and do them first to "get them out of the way." I admired her for that kind of discipline.

      Some time ago I put every movement and song on a calendar all the way from book 1 through book 10 (violin). It would take me an hour to go through all the books in the "Sunday column" and minutes to review the songs per book in this fashion. For example, the Sunday column would read: Var. A, Lightly Row, Perpetual Motion, and Minuet 2. I have some students who like this type of review.

      For advanced students, we have fun with the review. For example, we might play the review songs with clever fingering that involves higher positions or mirror backward bowing.

      I like your candy dishes idea.