You've been asking! How do I practice to learn the fastest?
Updated: Oct 13
By Christy | the Practicing Pro
Do you sometimes feel like your instrument practicing is a battle and then after a session you are not even sure that it is made a difference? Can you see a big improvement in your player’s ability every day and every week?
In this post, I’ll teach you how to help with this challenge to have effective practices that each one makes a difference by using my daily practice charts. I’ll share with you the ones that I use. I even have examples of some already filled out! I am excited for you to see an immediate improvement in your daily practices at home.
Using a daily practice chart
A daily practice chart is the best way to organize a player’s practice.
It will take you a few minutes to print these charts and make a practice binder. It is well worth your time!
Your player needs to know before they start their practice:
The total length of the session
exactly what to do and how many times
The parts of the practice that are negotiable and the parts that are not
If they finish all tasks before their time limit, what is the result?
Long term goal bigger than just this days practice and to feel and see that that they are getting closer to it
Children and teens really don’t like going into a situation that they don’t clearly know what is expected. This puts them in a situation where they can do what they think is “their best” to after find that you or the teacher are disappointed in them. They won’t want to play their instrument. Alternately, if they know what to do, how to do it, and for how long then they know whats clearly expected and feel safe from failure and judgment after completed.
Example of being specific:
Instead of saying:
“practice Lightly Row” (very general)
Replace with: “Play the second line:
3 times slowly - start on 4th finger.
2) 3 times medium tempo - make it loud the first time and soft the second time in an echo
3) Play Lightly Row all the way through at medium tempo. Do both 1) and 2) on the second
See how the second way is completely different than just saying “practice Lightly Row “? The first one is ambiguous with no direction and the second one is very clear. The player knows what is expected for them to do to improve.
A parent’s job is to learn to listen carefully to the teacher in lessons and to notate the drilling parts spots for the following week. Notice how many times it takes them to get it correctly in their lesson and note twice as many or more repetitions they will need to do each day at home for at least a week. If its a really big correction, like wrong notes that have been played for a while, then it will need to be drilled each day for a few weeks longer so that it doesn’t creep back into the piece later again. After you play something correctly the first time you still need to keep drilling it for many days to make it permanent.
If you have a player that DOESN’T like to be given specific tasks and likes to choose what they do themselves - then try this. When you give them a specific spot to drill, what to correct, how many times to do it, and what the focus is LET THEM ALSO CHOOSE SOMETHING.
Example of choices they can make when drilling:
Roll two dice for them to choose the number of repetitions
Play a repetition choosing game like my Muffin activity. Where you choose the drills but they pick the order they are done in a fun way.
An example of a choice to be made during a review piece:
Play a game where they choose the review piece in a fun way like my Butterfly activity. And you choose the focus.
You choose the review piece but they get to choose a fun way to do it like hopping on one foot or turning in a circle. Can you do that and still keep your fingers on your tapes AND remember your song?
Lesson Practice Sheets:
Here are my basic practice sheets to fill out during your lessons.
Download them here:
Examples of Filled out Lesson Practice Sheets:
How to use the practice sheets
Print, hole punch and put into a practice binder.
Fill out a new sheet each week at the lesson. Parent’s job, but for older teens they can do it themselves at the lesson partially and the remainder immediately after the lesson.
Start at the top and work down a column until the preset timer goes off. Lesson lengths can vary but general length is slightly less than or equal to their weekly lesson time length.
If your timer goes off, but the column isn’t completely filled in, then the next day starts on that day’s column, after your warm-up, in the place you stopped on the last day. Note what took too long and adjust on next week’s practice sheet.
The goal is to make a practice sheet that keeps your player’s attention for the entire time and if they focus and do their personal best they will finish a few minutes BEFORE their lesson timer goes off.
Do a special reward music activity together in the remaining time.
Articles and Free Resources for Extra Support:
How to create a daily habit of practicing and how as a parent 5 minutes a day prep challenge you do with them will make you successful as a team. Free Download charts included.
RECAP and INVITATION from Christy Hodder:
Use a daily practice chart. Parents take clear notes filling out the chart
Read my other articles on ways to make the practice more fun as you check off your items. I hope that you enjoy my charts!
Please send me a photo of your musician with their daily practice sheet all filled out and their SMILE, to share with other parents and players. 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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