Practice Makes Perfect or Does It?

One of my favorite summer workshops that I like to try to hold about every 3 years is a workshop on practicing.  I find that even if a student took this workshop before, there is a quite a difference on what they will get out of it when they were 8 years old and when they 11 years old.  I like to have some hands on activities for most of my workshops.  So for this one I had my students create a practice board game which listed some of the games found in the Practice Revolution by Philip Johnston.  Students also made practice flashcards that a teacher created and shared years ago.  (I can’t remember who the teacher is that created them so if anyone knows let me know so I can give credit to them.)  I printed them out on card stock and students cut them out and hole punched them.  Then we combined the cards with a metal ring.

At the very beginning of this class we had a Q and A session.  Some of the questions I asked students was why practice, is it REALLY important?  What motivates you to practice?  Why do you think practicing is hard or why do you not like to practice, when do or should you practice, why practice games?  This was a very informative session and I always find the answers students give interesting.

Afterwards I had a bag full of objects representing “Common Practice Flaws” and explained the solution for each problem.  (Practice Revolution)  I loved this and noticed by having objects that represent the practice problems, students remember them better.  ie: a race car would represent “speed demon”, a watch or small clock or timer would be “clock watcher” and so on.

Later in the class students got their music that I asked them to bring (something they haven’t learned yet) and had them go through the music, find challenge spots and ask themselves what would help to overcome those spots.  Then they color coded their music and shared what they did and why.

In this class we also reviewed and learned how to use the practice games in their practicing.

One of my favorite parts of this class was on the last day I went through several practice problem scenario’s listed in the book and asked the students how they would solve those problems.  This was when I was really able to find out if they have been paying attention!  I would highly recommend doing a practice workshop in your studio.

The resources I used for this class was The Practice Revolution, Practiceopedia, Not Until You’ve Done Your Practice,, Hal Leonard’s Student Guide to Effective Practice, Practice and Performing: A Pianist’s Guide- DVD (Hal Leonard)

At the end if you would like to provide a snack be sure to ask if they can swallow or eat their snack in one bite?  (Make sure you provide a snack where they couldn’t do this like a big cookie…)  Small bites ie: small sections in practicing.

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Summer Organizing

Each summer I try to get a little more organized over my break.  This year a shelf in one of my bookcases that is in my piano lab room broke.  These are your cheap bookcases and I’ve had them for years.  My first thought was to try to fix it but that wasn’t going to well.  So my husband who was ready for a new project suggested that we build a much nicer shelf unit that would go across from wall to wall in the space the bookcases were in.  Sounded good to me!

So the project began…  The first three pictures show just one bookcase worth of stuff!  The fourth picture includes the second bookcase of stuff.  How it all fit, I’ll never know.

I am enjoying my new shelves!

Alabama Tornadoes- Music Recovery Project

AMTA has established a Tornado Recovery Fund to assist member teachers and their students who have suffered loss in the April 2011 storms. Money from this fund will be used to assist teachers in re-establishing their studios, and will aid students in resuming lessons when they would not be able to otherwise.  I asked Misti Short, music recovery project coordinator if I could pass along her message to help get the word out a little more…

“As many of you are aware, on April 27, our state was tremendously impacted by over 50 tornadoes that took the lives of many and the homes and businesses of many more.  Several of our teachers were tremendously impacted with the loss of their entire home or apartment, and subsequently, their entire music library.  Some of our teachers were fine, but their students lost their homes and music, and at least two of our students lost their lives that day.
As the Alabama state affiliate of MTNA, we have created the Alabama Tornado Recovery Fund, and within that we have the Music Recovery Project, of which I am coordinator.  Teachers are just now beginning to create their lists of the music that they would like replaced, and we are asking others to consider donating the requested items.  The items requested can be found by visiting the state website:  There is a link to the recovery project on the main page.  If upon looking at the list realize that you have an extra copy of a particular item and would be willing to donate it, you may contact me, and I can get you the mailing address for the teacher or student who needs the book.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to e-mail me.   Sincerely, Misti Short”