Friday, October 2, 2015

A Little Practice Buddy

Sometimes it's just a little buddy that will kickstart practicing again. In my case it's this little Practice Monkey that I got for my Shoppe but any stuffed animal would work.
We use our practice monkey as an audience, a critic, an object for concentration, and a reward for good practicing. This little guy is always sitting around watching for good tone and happy playing. 
Today this little guy is making practice fun. 

Check out this video of our practicing today complete with chocolate on the face. It's over six minutes long. That's with all the parts I edited out. Caroline practiced this section for at least 20 minutes. It was really a tough one for her, but notice she is still smiling at the end of practicing. We also included another little guy we like to practice with. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Practicing Incentive

These Spirit Sticks are such a fun incentive and prize to students.  Here is what one teacher wrote to me about how she uses Spirit Sticks:

This fall I just started having my students keep practice books. I put a year's worth of practice charts in a paper folder and they are to color in an object for each day they practice. Most I created myself, but I borrowed a little from the free downloads on your site. 

I wanted to find a way to reward students who practice the most, but then didn't want it to feel like a competition where anyone would feel excluded, even if they practiced a lot. Also, I know they things happen- people get sick, strings break, etc. So I set the criteria that the student must practice at least 20 days out of the month, and if they do, they will earn a spirit stick and each month has a different theme. Twenty days isn't my ideal, but it seems to be a reasonable goal. Some of the kids will have no trouble achieving this, but it is a challenge for some! 

I'm just starting to give out the "I love Suzuki" sticks this week as a free starter to their collections so they can see what they're like. I think they're excited about it, even some of the teens who may not wish to show how cool they think it is. :) I even have an adult student of retiree age who is playing along with my incentive program. :) 

I love this idea!  One HUGE piece of advice I have to give if you are starting a Spirit Stick incentive program with your students is to keep track of what you have given.  I make a simple chart like the following and put names of my students along the top and the name of the Spirit Stick along the side. Most recently I've given out a Celebration Spirit Stick for the huge concert we participated in and a Milkshake Spirit Stick for those who performed in our summer ice cream party.  I'm a couple months behind giving that out, but sheesh - life's been busy.

I love this picture of my student who has practiced many many many days in a row!

Here is an example of what I gave out at my Spring solo recital as a gift/treat at the end.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Multi-Mouse Making Our Practicing Fun!

This past weekend I had the fun opportunity to attend the ASTA Conference in my hometown.  I met a lot of great people who stopped by my Shoppe as well as others who were selling their own products.  One such product I invested in is the Rockin Rosin which is so fun to give away to my students.  They love rosining their bow with a fun shaped rosin!

My biggest find, however, was a cute little mouse slap bracelet called the Multi-Mouse.  We call him Mr. Mouse over here and he's been a constant tool in our practicing this week.  I think this is a great little toy that can be used in a variety of ways from the smallest little pre-twinklers to the older students learning shifting and vibrato.

According to the creator, the multi-mouse has many wonderful uses:

1. Bowing arm path
2. Left wrist position
3. Left hand shape
4. Introduce Shifting
5. Vibrato Technique

 I decided to test this out with my own kids and here are some of the pictures!

What really intrigued me was using this to help keep my daughter's wrist open when she plays.  She often plays with a "pancake hand" and I'm constantly reminding her to open her wrist.  Mr. Mouse is a fun way to practice with an open wrist.  What I've also noticed this week is that because she's not collapsing her wrist her low 2s are MUCH better in tune!

Mr. Mouse sits on the chair and waits his turn.

Even my 2 year old who is doing pre-twinkle exercises is having fun with Mr. Mouse.

I thought it might give you a better idea how I use this little guy if you saw him in action!

Here's a link to the video that the creator, Sharon, put together.

P,s, thanks to my 2 year old, 5 year old and 8 year old for demonstrating in the video!