· Practicing, not talent is the biggest influence on your child’s success when learning an instrument.
· For most children 140 minutes per week (20 minutes per day) of QUALITY practice is the MINIMUM needed for success. Students will be required to submit a practice record each week indicating the time spent practicing.
· Goal-oriented vs. time-oriented practice. I would love for every child to become more goal oriented in his or her practice rather than simply meeting the required amount of time, however, due to the subjective nature of music, many young children simply haven’t developed the skills to adequately measure their progress. This is why I require students to fill out a practice record. Your child’s ability to play the assigned lesson material accurately is, however, much more important than the minutes indicated on the practice record.
· How to practice correctly. Over the course of the year, I will be teaching your children how to practice properly. Your child should always be assessing his own progress and asking himself what he is doing well and what can be done better. I give many suggestions to help children work through their own difficulties. After the first few weeks of lessons, when the children begin reading music, they should be practicing using the “3 steps”. I will give your child a copy of this procedure to keep in his or her folder once he or she reaches this point. You should hear your child counting rhythms and reading note names out loud before playing an exercise – surprisingly, these non-playing activities are often more beneficial than just playing. These activities certainly count towards the required amount of practice. A certain amount of playing will, of course, be necessary for muscle development and for motivation.
· Yes, you can help your child practice even if you are not a musician. I encourage parents to be active in the practicing process. Every week your child will write down the assignment on the back of their practice record so you will know exactly what he or she should be working on. By keeping an ear open when your child is practicing you can often tell whether your child is practicing effectively. You should hear counting, reading of note names, and repetition of trouble spots. Practicing is a time to solve problems so if your child’s practice always sounds effortless, it is likely that your child is not practicing the sections that need more work. Additionally, the book we use explains concepts very well. I will teach all of the concepts in lessons (or give your child the tools to discover them for themselves) but if your child is having difficulties, you may be able to read through the page in the book and help him or her to understand it better.
· Most importantly, you can help your child to find a time and place for daily practice. The children who are most successful are the ones who set aside a time each day for practicing. Setting up a daily routine makes it much easier for children to find time to practice. A place as free from distractions as possible with a chair (except for percussionists) and music stand is the ideal practice environment.
Practice will help your child to be more successful and to have more fun making music!!