Sunday, May 29, 2011

Report on 2-a-day Practices

I have been doing 2-a-day practices the past two weeks with my two daughters. Here is my report...

SUCCESS!!!

This is definitely going to be our new practice routine - especially next school year. My kids school is early enough that they don't have time to do all of their practicing in the morning, but I am a believer that morning practices are the best. I have broken up my children's practice list by morning and afternoon. They practice their new material in the morning when their mind is fresh. They practice review in the afternoon when they can just play for fun. It's been amazing at the practice quality from my 8 year old in Book 5. She's diligently working on her new stuff and has rapidly progressed. However, the review has not gone by the wayside. She's done more review these past few weeks and has even polished her Seitz concertos once again. Here is a picture of the practice list I tape to the wall next to her music stand.

My 4 year old Book 1 daughter is doing very well also. Our first practice session she plays her 3 newest pieces plus her new finger exercise (this week it was blue finger pattern 10 times.) This takes about 10-15 minutes. By then she's happy to take a break. The second practice session of the day we use this chart and she puts magnets on the pieces she's played. When the chart is filled she's finished. Awesome practicing this week!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another Post on Listening

I love a quote from the SAA Journal I got in the mail yesterday by Debbie Meece, "Not listening to the CD is like putting a baby in a sound-proof room where he cannot hear his language spoken. He will not learn to talk without listening to his language. And so it goes that the young child will not learn to play music without hearing music played."

My baby is just learning how to talk, and like with each of my other children I'm amazed at the progress. The other day she came up and pointed to my elbow and just said, "e bow." Each day I point to her body parts and say the name. It's starting to click.

I have some people ask how my daughters move so fast through the Suzuki literature. I'll admit - even though I have this practicing blog - we are not amazing practicers. I contribute most of their success to listening. They've been listening since they were born - we listen when we are in the car - they hear my lessons when I teach. My 4 year old whistles pieces way beyond her level because she knows them.

My 8 year old is now learning Vericini Gigue from book 5. After one week of preview spots she played through the piece almost flawlessly. She was so happy and exclaimed, "Mom, forget everything I said about listening (referring to her grumbling when we turn it on every day in the car). This is awesome! I know this whole piece because I've been listening to it."

Listen listen listen! I cannot say it enough!

listen!

Listen!

LISTEN!!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Another repetition idea: blocks

Practicing with my 4 year old has become increasingly difficult. She gets all grumpy and her bottom lip sticks out and she refuses to do anything. Today was actually a good day of practicing so I knew I needed to get stuff done while she was happy. She REALLY needed to practice the C section of Perpetual Motion because she kept slopping through it - never getting it right. I pulled out the trusty bead counter that we use so often and ...what!....rejection!!! She refused. Am I such a pushover that my child gets her own way? Well, I can't force her arms to move and I can always get mad, but what good will that do. So, I'm frantically looking around quickly for something that will motivate her to practice this section over and over. What do I find? A box of blocks!

"How about every time you play this section we add a block to the stack. Let's see how high we can make it before it tips over."

Her eyes got wide and she smiled. Aha! I got her. Sure enough she did the section over and over successfully and really improved the song during that practice session. Sometimes we just need to add a little variation to the routine and it doesn't always have to be a big planned event. I have a feeling we'll be doing overs and overs with the blocks for the next few days.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Do you hear your kids sing songs they hear on the radio? Sometimes you may notice that your children know all the words to a particular song and wonder how they learned it....did they study it? No, they probably just listened to it over and over and over again. This one of the fundamentals of the Suzuki Method: LISTENING!

I have found an awesome CD to listen to in the car or in the kids rooms. It's call Beethoven's Wig. There are four different CDs (I checked them out from the local library, but you can also look online to buy them.) This CD puts creative words to popular classical tunes. The words are hilarious and fun to sing. I have found that after listening to all of these CDs a lot while driving in the car my kids have a huge repertoire of classical music in their head. It brings me so much joy to hear my kids whistle a little Beethoven or Liszt. They'll know this music for the rest of their lives!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Day 1 of Two-a-days

Success!!! My 8 year old practiced her new pieces and scales before school. She was surprised that it didn't take her as long as she thought (she's so used to a long practice.) Since she had no violin lesson today and I didn't teach, her second practice session was before dinner. Again, she did everything on her list for afternoon - basically review and note reading - and this time I was surprised that it didn't last forever. It felt so good to know she did a full days practice today without it taking the whole evening.

I also tried this with my 4 year old. It's more common to have two-a-days with younger children because their attention span is shorter. But this time was more productive to me than it has in the past because the first practice session worked on her newest piece, scale, and the two pieces she's performing on a recital on Wednesday. We were finished before we knew it! The second practice was after dinner and it was a fun practice where she played every other piece in Book One.

Two great practices in one day! Hooray for me!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Two Practices per Day

My lovely 8 year old is waiting until the last minute of each day to practice.  It's getting on my nerves because the practices are anything but productive when she's rushing through each piece to get done before story time.  I've tried to instigate the after school practice, but she's so exhausted from the day at school and I believe she needs down time.  Unfortunately for us - after her down time is when I start to teach and I'm not there to monitor any sort of practicing.  I've been reading the Maurer's String Book and they mention practicing twice per day.  This is my project this week....to get her to practice twice: before school, and after dinner.

Morning:
Tonalization
Scales
Technique
New Piece
Previous Two Pieces

Evening:
Tonalization
Etudes/Note Reading
Review


I'll let you know how it turns out...

House Tour

Yesterday I waited until the 5:30 on Saturday evening to practice with my kids. What a terrible time to practice! They had just had a fun day, the weather was perfect and they wanted to play outside, it was the weekend so they wanted to watch a movie. Something they didn't want to do: PRACTICE! So, I had to shake it up a bit. I told my 4 year old that we would work on one song in every room in our house and when we had no more rooms we were done! In addition, I let her stand on the furniture to practice. We ended up having a great practice!