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  • Resources for Students to Practise at Home (All Teachers)

    Posted by Matthew Rusk on November 10, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    What resources do you use to really get students to practice at home? Writing an article on the best resources for music teachers to help students practice 🙂 all instruments welcome to comment!

    Mark Palmer replied 5 years, 5 months ago 5 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • Beckie Tunnicliffe

    Member
    November 10, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    For the kids, a star chart!

  • Matthew Rusk

    Administrator
    November 10, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Great idea – I saw a nice variation of that with beads for younger learners: https://blog.musicteachershelper.com/motivating-younger-students-practice-piano-part1/

  • Eliza Fyfe

    Member
    November 10, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    I buy/produce backing tracks, provide warm ups by mp3/online stream, give them notes at the end of each lesson with tips. I also record them within the lesson (just a basic phone recorder) if there’s more tailored warm ups or techniques they need to remember for later

  • Guest Teacher

    Member
    November 10, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    I have recording gear in my studio so if I decide to pull out something new or something that specifically drills part of the song they’re learning I can easily record either vocally or from my keyboard. I find specific drills that link to their learning are more likely to get done than exercises for the sake of exercises. I also find short and frequent is more likely to get done than a 10 point practice plan. It’s very similar to how I set homework at school (or at least that’s what I try and do!)

  • Guest Teacher

    Member
    November 10, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    Nearly all of my students, kids and adults, have a week-to-view practise diary, which they can fill in homework/lesson contents on lesson days and fill in their practise on other days with what they played and how often. Gives them a space to write in what they found tricky and what they achieved too without having to remember and vocalise it to me in lessons.

    I always set a short achievable time span for practices instead focusing on frequency as the goal – all my students are encouraged to practise 5 times per week for any length of time. On piano, beginners I suggest 5 minutes, intermediates I suggest 10-30 minutes depending on age and more advanced students I tend to vary suggestions depending on the student. Voice is slightly different but I mostly have adult singers. Younger students can earn stickers in their diary for practising 5 times in a week (regardless of how long – a 10 minute practise is still 1 practise, this is important) and some have found further encouragement when I’ve suggested they take their sticker filled book to show and tell at school – school teachers love that sort of thing in 4-7 year olds as it models rewards for consistent effort rather than just concentrated achievement. Older or more mature students who are good self-motivators when it comes to practise find the diary useful for structure and as a memory aid and also to evaluate when/how their practise is most useful (with or without stickers!).

    Finally, among kids, involving parents in their learning journey is very helpful. If the parent knows what their child is doing (and most importantly, sees the child making progress), they will be more likely to encourage a child to practise. Involving parents in rewards such as stickers and sweets help. Also -consistently reminding parents that punishment for not practising or attempting to take away “distractions ” that a child might feel they need, is not helpful. For example I have a reluctant practiser aged 12 who is very into his computer coding, and if he’s sat at the piano he’s very likely to also have his computer nearby and flit between the two for a few minutes each at a time. In that situation asking the child to separate the two activities and focus on one just took him away from the piano entirely as he’d rather just do computer. I asked the parent to observe progress made in this sort of practise and she found that actually the child was focused on the piano and made good progress while having access to short breaks at his computer and spread out 15 mins of focused practise over c. 40 minutes. The alternative was him choosing computer over piano entirely. So, yeah, good relationships with parents is very helpful to actually understanding how your kids practise.

    All that said, the first step to getting a kid to practise, is making sure they like what they’re doing. I had a 14 year old having grade 4 ABRSM forced down his neck by his Mum who wanted nothing more than to learn to play easy arrangements from his favourite musicals. Chatted to parent and switched it up and child went from no practise for months straight to 4-5 / week. No resource can fix a bored child! Engage them and plan well.

    Anyway sorry for the essay I’m just on a train with nothing to do. Hope this was helpful!

  • Eliza Fyfe

    Member
    November 10, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    That was a very interesting read (I’m just in a cafe catching up on admin!) I particularly like the idea of students making a note of when they practice. I might get them to do this on the MGR website. Short and achievable makes sense – I try to get students to see practice as something to be enjoyed, not a chore, even though I am guilty of this myself, in my own practice. Good relationship with the parents for the young ones that need to monitor their practice more effectively is all great. This has really made me think about how to assess their practice more, so thanks for this! I certainly have too many students skipping practice and not really moving forward as much as I’d like them too. It’s mainly adults though, so it’s sort of down to them and they enjoy their lessons for different reasons (less goal-focused as much as the kids for example, as it’s a nice hobby/escape from their hectic lives!)

    No resource can fix a bored student – well said, couldn’t agree more!

  • Mark Palmer

    Member
    November 10, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    I do simple drills for all my students.

    1. Playing a scale along to a metronome; beginning slowly and increasing tempo upon success until unable to. Logging the highest bpm and aiming to improve the following week. Ive found it gives the student an objective target to aim for(thats they can also replicate in their own time too). Plus, it functions as a diagnostic when the bpm speed is just out of their reach it highlights the good/bad aspects of their technique, which can then be addressed.

    2. Timing common chord changes in a minute, Loggin the result from one lesson to the next. Again the numbers are a focus and are an objective result. If the numbers go down form one week next we can address the what the potential causes etc.

    I think these approaches work because anyone can tell someone how well they’re doing and stroke people egos etc. Numbers/result cant be the whole story, but they’re a useful indicator of progress. Im sure in the beginning we’ve all felt like we weren’t improving from one day.week to the next. Ive found this gives the student a way of mapping their progress, or encourages adjustment to make the most of their practise

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