Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Piano Is Practical" Mini Documentary

   Piano is a practical skill meaning that the skill has usefulness through out life. So, as parents I would like to encourage practical (likely to succeed or be effective in real circumstances) assistance to your child in their practice routine. 
  I asked many of the parents in my studio to describe their child's practice routine. Here are some of their great comments.

1. She practices at the same time every day however long she wants. Sometimes she gives a concert.
2. His routine is to practice in the mornings before school.   15 to 20 minutes on most days.   He usually starts with scales.   I sit with him and help him.
3.They have changed over the years. Typically I prompt the children to do their practice.
4. He plays any chance he gets.  He plays his favorite pieces over and over.  He also picks out, by ear, new pieces he likes.  He plays at least 45 mins./ daily
5. Usually practices after dinner for about 15 minutes and during free time on weekends.
6.  I try to have her practice after dinner and in the morning on late-start days and Saturdays. I have her play each of her pieces three times through until she knows them well enough to do it fairly well, and then two times through each time after that. I am not consistent enough.
7. We do scales, new songs, review old songs up to 10 total, do the theory book.  Sometimes we do note flash cards if we have time.
8. She often plays on her own
9. In the past she would play many times during the day, but lately she has been in a funk
10. He gets up and plays after everyone is awake
    I see a similar thread winding through these comments. Practice before school if they are elementary age and practice after dinner if they are middle school and high school age. Practicing the same time every day is a very sound solution. If your child has a heavy homework schedule taking a break to practice for 20 minutes will make them more able to concentrate again, after. 
   I remember the challenges of children practicing, very well; I had five of my own. One skill I developed was to acknowledge that I was not the best practice buddy every day for my children but I was able to be really good with each child once a week. On the day that my focus became intense with that one child, I listened more intently to their playing and assessed the flow and amount of hesitations and mistakes. I read their assignments carefully it see if they were playing all assigned music and I asked questions about their intentions. I tried to give assistance to the problems they identified. I showered them with praise and hoped that this was enough to carry us through the week. You may think that it was easy for me because I was a teacher but my daughter played violin and I knew very little about that instrument. The complexity of her instructions and her frustrations were often more than I could handle. I was not perfect, but once a week I was great.
   I hope this encourages us all to see piano as a practical and useful skill. Watch our video about how we see pianists in everyday life.

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