Music Practice Review is More Fun with Butterflies!
Updated: Oct 13
By Christy | the Practicing Pro
I have a fun review practice activity to share with you!
Don’t you hate it when your child comes to practice when you call and they look at you with either eager eyes or "do I have too" eyes? Do you wish that you had something magical to whip out to make their practice more fun? HELP! Well, here is an activity to make you a practice parent superstar.
Using my butterfly magnets and a simple numbered chart that you print off, your practicing is instantly more organized and more fun!
Reviewing Suzuki songs during practice
The foundation of the Suzuki program is to review songs each day. A student learns one piece at a time building their technique each song.
New beginners play all of the songs they know every day until they learn 6 that are "performance ready". After that, you can use a chart to track 6 pieces that you play in rotation every day.
A song is “performance ready” once you can play it perfectly at a good tempo, in steady time, with correct bowings, dynamics, and understand the new techniques introduced to that piece. Once a song is at this place, then you play that song EVERY DAY for three months, and THEN it’s ready for a performance and is officially "performance ready".
The brain learns NEW things easiest and fastest not in your new piece but in a previous piece that it already knows. The Suzuki method has been set up so that players can learn new techniques many months ahead in preview spots and in review pieces.
How to use my butterfly practice charts
During your lesson follow the teacher's instructions and glean from the session items on the chart. What if your teacher doesn't give specific practice instructions each week? Show your teacher ahead of time (or email them) the butterfly chart and let them know that you are doing a special practice activity and need to fill out this sheet in the lesson and will be looking for specific practicing direction. DO NOT ask the teacher to fill it out. or let them if they offer to. This is not the best use of the teacher's time. All of that time can be used to teach and practice with your player. If you can master this skill in your lessons then your student has more time with the teacher and you know what exactly to practice at home. its a win-win and the best deal for all parties.
Lesson Practice Sheets:
Here are my practice sheets for this Butterfly activity to fill out during your lessons.
(How to use my practice sheets with examples)
Reviewing your pieces
Why reviewing performance-ready pieces is so important
Make the most important part of your practice each day when you review the pieces that you have already learned and can do performance-ready. Performance ready means that if the queen of England were to come to your front door you could welcome her in and play a piece for her. Do you want to do six review pieces each day? Rotate through those review pieces so that you can play at any time many pieces at performance level. Because you know these pieces so well you can focus on technical things in your playing and develop very quickly. Improving your Playing happens faster and easier while playing your review pieces. An example would be that your teacher has asked you to have a rounder more flexible pinky on you’re both sick. Practicing six review pieces each day and thinking about this tech nickel detail the entire time will mean you can make it a habit after a few weeks or a few months. Trying to think about having a round flexible pinky while you are learning new pieces or focusing on reading notes is not going to bring you success as quickly or as easily as with review pieces. Keeping your review pieces always memorized and ready to play also Is practicing your memory! You always want to practice your memory so this is wonderful! Now when you learn a new piece you will be able to memorize it so quickly and remember it faster and for a longer period of time since you practice your memory skills every single time you play your instrument. Doing six review pieces every practice is definitely magic!
How to use the butterfly magnet board (cookie sheet)
The way you use your butterfly magnet board for review is to assign each one of the numbers on the back of the butterflies to one of your review songs.
A short cut is to use the table of contents at the beginning of your book. If you are in book two and pick #3 then play both #3 songs from book one and book two. If you are in book 4 then play all four #4 pieces in all of the books.
Pick a butterfly when you’re practicing and check your chart to see which piece you will play and then put the magnet on the other side of the cookie sheet. When all of the magnets are on the back of the board you can do it again by flipping the board over! Make sure that you do six butterflies minimum each practice and also try to think of a technical focus that you can work on and keep in mind while you’re playing each with your song.
Oliver using “practicing butterflies“ in the backyard. When one is complete then it moves from the cookie sheet to the metal stand on his music stand!
A few variations are to choose two pieces if you take an even number butterfly then you play one song but if you pick an odd number butterfly then you play the second song. This is a great way to practice for example your studies. If you were working on two studies For an RCM exam coming up in a few months for example and you have learned them and they are performance-ready but now you are working on little details and reviewing them for your exam. If your exam is 20 days away then you make 20 butterflies. An even number is your first study an odd number is your second study. It will be more fun to practice your studies each day with the element of chance and surprise for which one you will review that day.and alternate between the two each day then you can But also no worries because after 20 days you will have practiced both of them equally and not mistakenly practice your favorite one more by accident. Or the easier one more by accident. These butterfly tarts have a number for each task. At your lesson when you are taking lots of notes and planning your practice for that week keep in mind that each number will be a task. With the butterflies, you for example might have eight tasks on your practice chart so you will put number 1 to 8 butterflies on the metal pan. Choose one butterfly at a time and after doing the task number on your chart move the butterfly to the back. When all of the butterflies are gone your practice is over! You can flip the pan over and work from the other side the next day.
How to Make the Butterfly Board
Print on cardstock and cut out the butterflies from the free download or you can order from amazon the ones that I included further down that I created fast links for.
I included both full colored ones for you to cut out OR black and white ones that you can color with your player.
Glue them onto basic fridge magnets. (TIP - if you want them to last and not fall off scratch the plastic surface on the magnet cover and then the glue can grip better!)
Use a permanent black sharpie marker to write the numbers on the backs of each magnet.
Butterflies to download:
I know you will love this activity and it will bring you success and enjoyment with your player in your home making music. You can join my positive practice webinar to learn All about practicing and things that you can do to make yours better and more effective. They are weekly and only 20 minutes long. They are full of more ideas and lots of practicing inspiration! I hope to see you there.
INVITATION from Christy Hodder:
There you have it! My super fun Butterfly practicing charts and review activity. I hope that you enjoy it!
Please send me a photo of your BUTTERFLY activity, with your musician, to share with other parents. I would love to see it!
Free PDF download
Checklist for an Amazing Music Practice
Your easy checklist to have successful home music practices from Christy, the practicing pro. Whether you are a new or seasoned practice parent this checklist will help you organize before, during, and after practices for effective and fun practices.
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There are lots of extra ones here! You can use them as rewards to earn one after completing either a great practice session or finishing a whole board you can reach in a bag a choose a butterfly sticker to have. You can also make this activity for your teacher or a practice friend for a gift.
There is enough here for many activities. hang on to the extras and come up with other fun magnet board ideas.
HUGE Cookie Pan
Wow, this cookie pan is HUGE! I want one of these! It's so big you won't run out of butterfly space. Cookie pans are an investment because of the Teflon. you DO NOT want to put the butterflies on the inside but on the back. that way the magnets can leave little scratches in the back of the pan and the front can stay in perfect shape for that next batch of cookies!