The Summer PracticeFest was a good step toward getting students and families to really think about practice, and also whether it absolutely had to be done at the piano (since many took time to travel during the ‘Fest).
- “Brain Practice” can be done anywhere with the music and is very important – so many young students rush into playing a piece without settling down and thinking first. Dr. Noa Kageyama from Julliard suggests that each practice start with a few deep breaths to get focused.
- Rhythm or Theory Practice can be done anywhere with the exercise sheets and reinforces basic skills needed for learning pieces,
- Listening Practice can be done anywhere with a CD or iPod (extra credit for tapping or dancing to the CD).
- Fun Practice: At the end of the summer I learned about a book called “Ssshhh! Your Piano Teacher Thinks This is Practice” which has 88 pages of “fun” activities for elementary musicians to do that can constitute part of their daily practice requirement. The activities not only make the student accountable for different types practice requirements (e.g., not always starting at the beginning of the piece!), but engage the family and others into what is otherwise a solitary (and therefore potentially unpleasant) pursuit. If we can find ways to build the social aspects of music into lessons in the early years, perhaps we can keep more students involved for a longer time so that they can develop their musical and artistic sensibilities fully and give their friends, family and community the gift of performing.