Practice Tips from the Director

Written by Janice Morris

In more than 40 years of teaching music and training teachers, here are my favorite tips, suggestions and reminders about practicing:

  • WEEKLY "CONCERTS" HELP DEVELOP A FAMILY CULTURE OF HONOR: Set up a weekly 5-minute concert where the whole family becomes the audience who cheers for the child who performs their work for the week. (Ice cream following this is a plus!)  Janice fondly remembers the trips to her favorite sweet shoppe (for a caramel sundae) that followed every concert or performance.
  • DETERMINE A MINIMUM LENGTH OF STUDY IN ADVANCE: As long as the learning environment is fun, safe and effective, setting a reasonable minimum length of commitment eliminates the temptation to negotiate the inevitable hard work of learning--especially during the plateaus.

    • For example, if you decide in advance that your kids will study music for "X" amount of years (or months for a very young child) then you are likely to give them enough time to gain the momentum that comes from progress --even if they switch styles, teachers or instruments within that time frame as needed.
    • REGULAR PRACTICE TIMES: The same is true of scheduling practice.  Keep it regular. Haphazard practice is an  invitation for disaster and discouragement.
  • EXPECT KIDS TO HIT PLATEAUS: Don't be surprised when kids get stuck--this is typical-- we all do!  Just be sure to communicate with the teachers about your at-home practice experience. Sometimes a teacher might suggest suspending use of a certain book or assignment for a while. At other times,  they may sense that the child is close enough to success that they encourage the need to press through. None of us want our kids to be robbed of the sense of pride, accomplishment and motivation they experience after pressing through to a success that is close at hand.

  • AFFIRM SMALL UNITS OF PROGRESS: It is very likely that your child learned to speak your mother tongue because you got excited about them saying " baba, mamama,  dada or dadu." Kids respond to encouragement, why stop? The best learning comes in small increments and the best motivation comes from parents and family members who affirm and encourage.
  • EXPOSE TO INSPIRE--NEVER COMPARE TO PRESSURE:  Think about what really works for you. Very few kids are motivated by pressure to do something they are afraid they cannot do, but tall kids an be inspired. Comparing is like bullying, but inspiring your kids can work miracles. Instead, find online videos performances (of kids or adults)--or better yet, take your kids to hear their teachers or others perform live.

  • HAVE YOU EVER MET AN ADULT WHO SAID THEY WERE GLAD THEIR PARENTS LET THEM QUIT? Probably not, but you have likely met plenty who wish their parents had not been intimidated by their complaining, but had sought a better approach or different teacher where necessary.  Are you one of them?
  • DON'T BE AFRAID TO CHANGE MATERIALS OR EVEN TEACHERS: As students move through the part toward excellence,  they will need to have different kinds of teachers during each season of learning along the way. If your child doesn't relate to the teacher or the materials , then let us help you make a change. 

If your child likes the teacher and the learning, then help them feel successful by teaching perseverance. Give them a lifetime of musical enjoyment. Persevere!