Updated: Jul 12
By Christy | The Practicing Pro
Are snowflakes all unique? Yes, they are! Each ice crystal takes a different path to fall to the ground and its shape changes and grows as it’s falling. It twirls and swirls on its journey towards the earth and along the way it bumps into other molecules that will freeze to it and make it bigger! So each snowflake looks different and they’re also different sizes. However, there is something that all snowflakes have in common; they are all hexagons which means they have six sides or 6 arms to create a complete snowflake.
Just like every snowflake has 6 sides regardless of what beautiful pattern it has, there are 6 things that are foundational for a child in their practicing to also be unique and creative individuals in their playing!
Here are the things, that help your child to be creative with their music if they are in place:
Having a habit of listening! The only way to develop an ear for your instrument is daily listening. If you were to go to France and wanted to learn to speak French but had never heard it before, it would be very difficult for you to pick up the language. However, if you had listened to French every day for years and were already familiar with the sounds and nuances in the basic words, then when you go to speak, it will be so much easier to learn and you will be a lot braver to try new words with so many similar sounds already in your head! The same goes for practicing and learning an instrument. It’s so much easier to learn and faster to improve and be creative if you listen to other experts playing as much as you can and also as many different ways too!
2. Good Set up
Having a good set up is so important for your child or student to succeed. What I’m talking about specifically is their foundation of having good posture. This means that they play in a way that their fingers, arms, and joints will help them! They should be holding and playing their instrument or singing with their voice so it isn’t hurting their body or limiting its potential movement. You want them to be able to repeat something over and over for a long period of time without hurting. It also means that later when they are playing faster and at a higher level that they will have the right technique to be able to do it! You don't want them to be held back by a habit they have that makes it so that they can't improve. So make sure you have a good teacher to help you get set up correctly and have good posture.
3. Practice Space to Create/Focus in
Students need a time and a place every day to practice that becomes a habit that they can count on. If they don’t have to make a decision to practice because it’s just something that they do every day then they will be able to be more creative since they are always in that space at the same time.
4. Following a program
Make sure that you’re following a program where you can move from piece to piece in a way that you are able to learn and get better bit by bit in a logical way, where each week you get one or two new things to work on. If you just go and learn your favorite pieces in random orders of difficulty then you won’t be able to learn as well, or as efficiently as if you learn them progressively. Learning music that is too hard for your current level is like going for a walk during a BIG windstorm. You CAN walk, and you might get to your destination but it's really hard and your energy is used on staying UPRIGHT. Learning music progressively is easier and more pleasant. You can enjoy it more like going on a walk in beautiful weather - you can enjoy the journey and the scenery. Children that are solid in the level they are playing in each step, feel more confident and secure with their playing, so that they are more able to be creative and explore on their own their musical ideas when encouraged.
5. Group Experiences
I believe that belonging to a group of players that all play together in unison at the very beginning helps children to be creative. This is because they have a foundation of something that is always done a certain way. By having this kind of structure they know where the boundaries are and can know when they are stepping outside of those boundaries and entering new and creative areas. Sometimes if students are only ever creating, it can be difficult for them because they don’t have the foundation or baseline to compare and contrast their creativity to.
6. Safe Environment to Experiment
The last thing is that a child needs to feel emotionally safe to experiment. If a child plays with a bow too heavy and loud because they’re experimenting and playing “like a monster“, then a parent or teacher can’t make the comment that it sounds crunchy, or they don’t like it, or shrivel up their nose! Instead, the parent needs to say instead something like “that is very strong and scary-sounding”. There’s a big difference between saying it’s strong and scary-sounding then to say that it sounds awful or that you don’t like it because it’s too harsh or loud!
Here is a fun snowflake activity that you can use for your practicing!
When you practice at the end when all of your tasks are done, save a few minutes to earn a snowflake stick by doing something creative with one of your review songs! When you have enough sticks collected make a creative snowflake.
Here are a few examples but you can also be completely creative and make your own!
Please send me a photo of your amazing snowflake to share. I can't wait to see it!
Snowflake Templates Snowflake 1 - FREE pdf download Snowflake 2 - FREE pdf download
You can look through the list provided and write on the sticks a number that you know will work for your child to be creative. You can make multiples of one number too if they work well for you since they will use different review songs each time.
For a Suzuki Book 1 student example
If you choose a stick with #6 for perpetual motion you can do the whole thing PP then at the end the last note can be FF as a surprise OR the last two notes of each section can end with two PIZZ notes. There are SO MANY things! Use your imagination and have FUN!!!
If you choose a stick with #14 and you are doing a simple melody like “Twinkle Star” you can tiptoe around the room while the baby is sleeping to not wake them up and play pianissimo (extra soft) OR you can play “Go tell Aunt Rhode” while doing jumping jack feet on the A part (first part) and stand so still on the B part (middle part).
You can glue together, add a hanger (I used a rubber band) and decorate your "creative stars" however you would like!
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:
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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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