As a teacher, I have discovered that one of the most difficult things to teach is how to practice. Learning how to practice is probably the most important skill a child can learn, because it teaches hard work and discipline. My ninth grade geometry teacher admitted as much. He knew we probably wouldn’t have a future career in geometry, but he knew that learning how to learn would be essential for life. (Thanks Mr. Jones!) Every child is so unique and it is always a struggle to a) find a practice routine that works for them and b) convince them (and their parents) to implement that routine during the week. I don’t want practice times to be a struggle for the child or the parent! That being said, I’d like to give you my 2 cents.
Find a time of day that your child can consistently practice. I like to say that you only have to practice on the days that you eat. (Practice 5 times a week, at least.)
Play a recording of the pieces that your child is working on. I highly recommend owning the CDs, but finding a quality recording on YouTube can work as well. As you are listening to the music, pull out the violin and ask your student some questions. For example,
- How do you tighten the bow?
- How tight does the bow need to be?
- Where does my (thumb, pinky, etc) need to go on the bow?
- What part of the violin is this?
- What are the names of the open strings?
- What happens when I put my first finger down on the A string?
Initiate a violin related conversation with your child with the music in the background. Once the child is holding their instrument and showing you how it’s done, start to have them demonstrate the skills we have been working on.
- Can you play the A ladder for me?
- How many different rhythms do you know? Can you play them for me?
- Can you play (such and such song) with a good mouse hold? Good bow hold?
Daily practice should mimic what we do in lessons. If you are unsure of how that routine goes, come to a lesson and take notes or record the lesson. Young children need to learn how to practice, and they will need your help. If you are consistent with this, practicing will be much more enjoyable (hopefully) because it will become less of a power struggle. Think of it as family music time! Start with short practice sessions and gradually lengthen the amount of time as the student become more proficient at practicing on their own. Students need to focus the entire time, and that is why I try to give very exact instructions for them to follow.
And, last but not least:
I will probably use this meme a lot. I love it so much.