Using these practice tips on a daily basis will turn your lesson time into a fun and productive time.
HABITS: For best results, practice every day at the same time of day if possible (approximately 30 minutes). Effective practice is not so much a matter of HOW MUCH time is spent, but what is accomplished during the given time period. (Younger students can divide time in half a couple times a day.)
SLOW PRACTICE & COUNTING: Start each "new" piece playing slowly and counting evenly, concentrating on playing the correct notes every time. Never play faster than what you can play each measure without making a mistake. The speed (tempo) may be gradually increased later, as the notes and rhythm become easier. Get into the habit of counting evenly every time you play. (The use of a metronome will help to keep a steady beat.)
FINGERING: Follow suggested fingering strictly. Adjustments can be made to fingering with the teacher's help.
BREAK DOWN INTO SMALLER SECTIONS: Don't attempt to play the piece from beginning to end, before playing over each of the difficult sections 2-3 times at the first part of your practice time.
REFERENCE MARKS: Go through each piece and mark the more difficult measures or phrases, and play them first - going over these sections 3-4 times BEFORE playing through the whole piece will make learning the piece much easier. The teacher can help you to locate and mark these sections if needed.
SOLVING COORDINATION PROBLEMS: If you're having problems with measures/sections that are harder to play hands together, TRY playing hands separately. Doing this 3 or 4 times BEFORE playing through the whole piece will make learning the piece much easier.
YOUNGER/BEGINNING STUDENTS: Younger students can try practicing each piece 3 or 4 times while naming the notes, playing & counting, and clapping the rhythm pattern. It may also be beneficial to divide the practice time into 2 or 3 sessions.
PRAISE YOUR CHILD: Instead of nagging your child to practice, find some way to acknowledge and support their efforts. Praise them for good posture. Praise them for trying. Let them know how pleased you are about the progress they have made on a particular song. Praise (and lots of it) is a wonderful and appreciated thing, and the rapport between you and your child will be great!
DESIGN A PRACTICE SCHEDULE: Designing a practice schedule that is right for your child is an important part of the plan for success. Beginners do not need long practice periods to make progress. For elementary grade children 20 minutes per day is quite enough. Some students may prefer to practice in 10 minute increments. These short periods may be just what they need to keep things interesting. Practicing every day is deal, though skipping a day here and there will not hurt anything; it may even help to keep your child's excitement about playing fresh. 5 days out of 7 would be a great practicing goal. You may want to try scheduling the practice days a week in advance using a Practice Record Chart to mark which ones the child will be practicing on, and then encourage them to stick with the play. Don't forget to praise them for doing this without having to nag them about it.
At the end of each week of practice,
perform for "fun" for a member of your family before each lesson.