Sunday, January 15, 2012

Practice Book for the Littlest Players

Meet Caroline.  She's 2 1/2 and loves to practice.  So, I made her a practice book and she LOVES it!  She's my only child that begs me to practice....3 or 4 or 5 times a day.  She can successfully play every variation of twinkle on open E string, including variation B if someone is playing with her.  She has okay posture and a baby bow hold - very tight - but she's working on a round thumb and pinky.  
What she can't get yet...everything else.  I try even a simple play position and rest position feet game.  It's like I'm speaking Chinese to her. She doesn't get it.  But she still loves to play.

An Easy Practice Game

I finally got back in the groove with practicing with this little game.  It's so simple I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner!  It's been so successful that it's been the standard way of practicing with my 5 year old for over a month now.  Never has a practicing game lasted so long, but this one has!


I first got this idea from one of my students moms who always comes up with great ideas to get her 5 year old to practice.  There are lots of different ways to use this chart - and not only for beginners!

I have two blank charts available at The Practice Shoppe.  One is 6x6 and the other one is a typical 5x5 Bingo chart.  Fill in the blanks with the current practice points (if you don't want to always print out a new chart you could laminate it and use a dry erase marker.)  Use different things to mark off the pieces such as chocolate chips, gold fish, gummy bears, acrylic jewels, etc.  When a line is completed the student get all of the treats or items on that line.

You could also print off TWO copies of the bingo chart and cut one up and put in a bowl or ziploc baggy and randomly pull out the different practice points to practice.  When a BINGO is made (a line completed) practicing is over.  My daughter LOVES to play this way because every once in a while her practice session isn't very long (but not very often.)  With this rule I've told her that if she gets a BINGO before she practices her recital piece then we still have to practice that at the end.

Some more ideas from my student's parent:
Sometimes just for variety, I'll include variations like the following:

"Play ______ with your eyes closed" 
"Play ______ with a distraction"  (I got this from dog training.  You pick something they should know well and have them play it while you are trying to distract them);
"Play ___ Scale to your favorite animal rhythm"  (She has to figure out the rhythm of the animal name, like hip-po-pot-a-mus, then play that rhythm for each note on the scale - she LOVES this);
"Pitch Page"  (sing a pitch page from the I Can Read Music book);
"Rhythm Page"  (clap a rhythm page from the I Can Read Music book);
"Play a piece for your dog" (whatever dog is parked on the couch becomes the audience and she enters the stage, I pantomime opening a curtain, she gets into position, plays, bows, etc.);
"Play your favorite piece"
"Play your most challenging piece"

As a teacher I had a student's mom ask how to get her daughter motivated to review Book 1 since she just wants to move on and learn Book 1.  So, I used the same concept and put all the pieces in Suzuki Violin Book 1.  This would be an excellent way to practice Book 1 - maybe a special practice each week devoted only to Book 1 review.

I hope you enjoy this game as much as we do!