Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday Practicing

You will give your child a sense of the importance of practice if you
require practicing even on holidays.  You may think I'm a scrooge for making my kids practice on days like Christmas or their birthday, but it works!  Practicing on a holiday is a great way to make it different, unique, or fun.  Here are some ways to do so:
  • Have your child pick her 5 favorite things to do - then practicing is done!
  • Have a small present to open after practicing (this could be a special present that has to do with music, practicing, or their instrument.)
  • Make it fun by doing an art project or craft - adding different sections between each song (adding feathers to a turkey or ornaments on a tree.)
  • If it's Christmas - only play Christmas songs.
  • Make a chain out of construction paper and put the name of a song on each link.  Either glue each link after they play, or have it already glued together and rip off a link and play what is on the paper.
Most of all - don't get upset about practicing on a holiday.  If it's not working - just stop!  The kids memory of the holiday should be a happy one!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Review boxes

Practicing review pieces is a fundamental part of the Suzuki Method.  With my 7-year-old in Suzuki violin book 4 she has a lot of review to do and it will just get more and more.  I am constantly thinking of new ways to practice review to keep it interesting.  This week review is one of her 15-minute practice sessions.  I made a chart with four boxes.  I divided the review songs in each of the four boxes.  She gets to choose a box and has to review everything in the box.  The goal is to practice all four boxes each week - only four days of review.  What are some of your ideas for review?

Practice Beads

I have been looking for these counting beads for a good price everywhere without success.  So, my husband and I took a trip to Hobby Lobby and found some materials to make them - and we even made them cute to personalize for our kids.  The kids LOVED using this at practice and they look cute on our piano as well.  We sell them at if you'd like one for yourself!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

15 Minute Timer

I have a 7-year-old who has to practice at least an hour a day. That is a lot of practicing for someone that young. My idea this week is to break down the practice into four 15-minute sessions. One 15-minute session is working on her newest pieces. When the timer goes off we stop. Other 15-minute sessions include review, Christmas/Group pieces, and her “alone practice.” She’s learning to practice on her own so there are certain things that she practices without me.

So far, this 15-minute method is working well, except we don’t usually get all 4 sessions in each day. But, she’s been a happy practicer and that is so much better than the alternative!

I love using these TimeCubes for practicing segments like this because it is so easy to use! I know we all have timers on our phones, but this has been a game-changer because I don't have to get distracted on my phone.  It's easy enough for a kid to use.  All you do is turn the timer to the side that has the number you want to time.  This picture shows 2 minutes and 10 minutes, but there are different timers with all sorts of times.  Take a look at timers at

Practice Makes It Easier

The phrase usually goes “Practice makes Perfect.” But we really don’t demand perfection out of our children or students. So, I have adopted the phrase from Ed Sprunger’s book (Helping Parents Practice) that “Practice makes it easier.” Makes what easier? Playing!!! When you practice your pieces they will get easier and you will then get to learn new pieces that you will practice and that is how we progress on an instrument.

I spend hours of my day practicing with my children and I am going to write about some of the tips and ideas to keep my kids motivated to practice. Perhaps that will help YOU with your practicing endeavors at home.