Updated: Nov 14
By Christy | the Practicing Pro
You can also Watch /Live HERE
As the holiday season approaches, it's time to prepare for a joyous celebration of music in our homes, lessons, and music schools. The words of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, who taught us to put "Character first, ability second," remind us that music education goes beyond hitting the right notes – it's about nurturing a child's character and their love for music. In the spirit of daily actions, James Clear, author of "Atomic Habits," emphasizes the power of consistency in building lasting habits. By teaching our children to engage in daily practices, like playing an instrument, we're preparing them for success in all their future endeavors. So lets do this!
Today, I am so happy to share with you the Practicing Pro "Santa's Growing Beard" activity – a fun and inspiring way to keep young musicians motivated and on track during the holiday season. This activity is not only for students but also a fantastic tool for school owners and private music teachers to encourage all their students to practice.
The Importance of Practicing Activities
Why are practicing activities essential for parents, teachers, and music schools alike? Here are some compelling reasons:
1. Involving Parents:
A practicing activity signals to parents that teachers expect students to practice regularly, increasing their involvement in their child's musical growth. Coming from a parent, it signals to the child that the parent is there to support them and make it easier and more fun, practicing is hard.
2. Clear Communication:
Practicing activities compel teachers to be explicit about what they expect from their students. Being clear about what, how and how long to practice something increases the learning of the student and makes it so much easier for everyone.
3. Follow-Up Conversations:
The activities provide opportunities for follow-up discussions. Teachers can check on a student's progress by asking questions like, "How's your Santa's beard coming along I gave you last week?" These discussions can lead to conversations that can problem-solve to find solutions to improve practice commitment.
4. Modeling Ideal Practice:
For students who may not understand what effective practice looks like, teachers can demonstrate by doing an amazing practice right in class, showing students EXACTLY how to practice at home. This one is GOLD.
5. Creating a Sense of Pride:
Sharing photos of students' progress or displaying them on a board fosters a sense of pride and motivation as students see the collective work of their peers.
Now, let's dive into the "Santa's Growing Beard" activity with instructions:
1. Prep the Beard:
In November, take some time to create the Santa's Beard by copying it in black and white on white card stock and cutting it out. There are 13 spaces on them, and each only requires a few cuts.
2. Choose Option A B or C for your Beard
Option A) Make A “Daily Practice” Beard :
- Students can put the date on the segment each time they practice and pull it down.
Option B) Upgrade/Review Songs:
- Teachers cut out a Santa Beard piece for each student on card stock ahead of time, with the student's name at the top.
- Over 2-3 weeks in November, teachers and students collaborate as a quick part of their regular private lesson to fill in the 13 spaces with review/upgrade pieces.
- During lessons, teachers also use sticky notes on students' music with a quick note to provide focus areas for the pieces as they work through each one. This ensures that each piece has an assigned focus and the review and upgrade process at home is meaningful. Filling out the Santa's Beard together during lessons encourages clear communication and makes the activity more engaging for students since they have been involved, especially for older teens.
Option C) Add Something New & Compile a List of Tasks:
- For teachers or parents who prefer to add something new each day to home practice as a surprise, you can brainstorm a list of age-appropriate tasks for each day. Tasks can include scales, learning new songs, listening to specific pieces, or exploring musical facts.
3. Prepare Santa's Head:
Colour copy the Practicing Pro Santa head PDF on card stock. Cut a slit for the beard (just above the dotted line). Secure it with a strip first of tape behind it if needed for extra security.
4. Work on it at Home
In December, Students take their Santa's beard home to continue working on their upgrade pieces, and the beard grows with their progress. If a parent has made it at home then it can be given as a fun gift in recognition of their hard work in the past and the fun week ahead that you will have together doing this activity that you made for them.
The Santa's Growing Beard activity will make music your music practices during the holiday season more enjoyable and effective. It's a wonderful way to nurture character, build habits, and foster a deep love for music in children. As we embrace the holiday spirit, let's remember Dr. Suzuki's wisdom – "Character first, ability second." By instilling character and a passion for music, we're not just preparing children for musical success, but for a fulfilling and enriched life. So, let's embrace this easy-to-make and easy-to-use, festive activity and inspire our young musicians to reach new heights in their musical journey.
I’ll be using it at our school with 250 students and I’ll share with you their progress so stay tuned for updates.
The Practicing Pro
Check out my Free PDF download Checklist for a Successful Music Practice for teachers and practicing parents.
Your easy checklist for successful home music practices from Christy, the practicing pro. Whether you are a new or seasoned practice parent or music teacher, this checklist will help you organize before, during, and after practices for effective and fun practices.
INVITATION from Christy Hodder:
Speaking of amazing practices, let me tell you all about the digital course, the Practicing Pro Academy. This is for the serious practicing parents and music teachers and is an at-your-own-pace, step-by-step, online course to bring you more effective, positive, and fun home music practices. Registrants receive a special package in the mail from me, and I am with you in person with Q&As to answer all your questions.
Learn more about PPA and join the waitlist HERE for the next Practicing Pro Academy course. It's only offered once a year so you don't want to miss it. The registration will only open for a few weeks and I'll let everyone on the waitlist know immediately so that you can grab one of the spots.
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