This is just the beginning of what I hope will be a series of conversations about all things related to practice.
Yo-Yo Ma and Wynton Marsalis had an interesting conversation about practicing in this video. One of Ma’s most memorable quotes was “I hate the idea of practicing.” Motivating students to sit down alone with their instrument is one of the most difficult challenges a music teacher faces.
My hunch has been that many students don’t practice because it’s just not part of their daily/weekly routine. This is especially true among beginners who lack in self-discipline and work ethic anyway. Some parents aren’t much help in this area, not being eager to hear their kids make all that noise.
One technique I’ve used to get students thinking about their practice habits is to help them find best time to practice. I ask them about their daily and weekly schedule and get a picture for their time commitments. If they have soccer practice on Tuesdays and church events on Wednesdays, those might not be realistic days to practice. “But Mondays are open, and so are Thursdays. And since your lessons are on Fridays, Thursdays would be a perfect time to prepare.”
Sharing this conversation with parents can be helpful on a number of levels. Parents who pay for music lessons will appreciate your help in getting a good return on their investment. They can remind their child to practice at the determined times instead of nagging all week. You can also establish credibility as a professional by talking with parents about how you want to see the child develop life skills like self-discipline, time management, delayed gratification (practice before T.V.), etc..
Here are a just a couple of the many great blogs and posts related to practice:
How about you? What are your thoughts on helping students develop a practice routine? Let’s start a dialogue here!