POSITIVE PRACTICE

When practice sessions are "successful," students are more likely to approach practicing with a better overall attitude. Practice helps students to improve. This in turn makes practice sessions more "successful." 

  • Encourage a love of all types of music by playing music in the car, at home, in the playroom, etc. Take your child to events showcasing different music styles.

  • Different strategies work for different students.

  • You can adapt or modify a strategy specifically for your student.  (Modifications are suggested in Practice Games.)

  • Younger students need a great deal of repetition to succeed.

  • Practice is ongoing. Help the student notice and understand the correlation between practice and playing the instrument well.

  • Tell your student that  "his/her favorite musician" practices and even practices on the day of the performance.

  • Help your student to identify improvement due to practice, for example, playing the notes more accurately, kept better time, etc. 

  • In the beginning, a parent must be involved in practice sessions to help the student learn how to practice effectively.

  •  Students need to learn how to practice. 

  • Good practice is intentional practice.

  • Success, confidence and progress are always practice goals. Use what works best for your student.

  • Practice should be part of a routine if possible. 

  • Set practice goals at the beginning of practice. Practice is over when goals are achieved.

  • Practice sessions should begin with easily attainable goals. Continue with goals that are reasonable and attainable with some effort. It is important that the student experience success when s/he is trying.  

  • The criterion for mastery of the practice goals is specific. 

  • Determine criterion based on the level of difficulty of the practice material, age of student and how well s/he knows the piece. 

  • Practice parts of a piece. Break down especially difficult parts.

  • If practice sessions aren’t going well, consider changing the time of day for practice. Ten minutes of a good practice does much more than 20 minutes of an argumentative practice when the student is tired.

  • Make practice sessions positive and engaging by incorporating games or special activities. (See Practice Games.)

  • Students are often motivated to practice before a performance and after a successful one.

  • The music teacher’s assignments are priority. 

  •  Practice what you "have to" practice first and then set your own goals for what you "want to" practice.

  • Whenever possible, empower the student by giving him/her choices. Choices can be which piece to practice first for a younger child and allowing the student to take full responsibility for practice time. ​​

  • Focus on what the student did correctly before pointing out mistakes. 

  • Inappropriate behavior reduces the likelihood of a successful practice. Perhaps you can give rewards more frequently, appeal to his/her desire to be "mature," remind him/her that practice is over when the goals are achieved.  

 

  • Everything you tell your student is a promise. Keep your promises. Make sure you can keep your promises. Not keeping your promise is a lie. 

  • Don’t tell the student something you know will not happen. (Saying "maybe" is not helpful.)

  • Do not delay the reward. If you said we can go to the park, go to the park. If the student knows s/he will get the reward every time, this strategy will be more effective.

  • Make the size of the reward match the task. If you buy him/her a bike for one good practice session, what will you do when s/he completes a more difficult task?

  • Do not give in to crying, begging, whining, etc. If you do, s/he is motivated to cry/whine longer because it works. Giving in sometimes will cause the student to continue the inappropriate behavior for longer periods of time. 

 

Good Practice Using a Timer

  • Give your child a 5-minute “practice time” warning.

  • Take advantage of the young students’ love of winning by setting a timer and then competing with him/her to see who arrives at the practice spot first.

  • Set the timer for a few seconds, up to a minute, depending on the age of the student.  Can s/he focus on a teaching point, like keeping good playing feet, proper position, straight bow, etc. until it goes off? 

  • See how many correct repetitions of the practice task can be completed in a designated time, usually a minute or two.

  • The timer will not maintain its effectiveness if the agreed upon event doesn’t occur.

Rewards

Earning rewards empowers students and makes practicing more fun.

  • Use charts, graphs, marbles or pennies in a (small) jar to monitor progress. Young students and some older students might need to be rewarded immediately.

  • Use rewards the student finds highly desirable. The reward can reflect the difficulty of the goal.

  • Rewards can include

    • A special activity with you or another family member, for example, grandparents.

    • Food.

    • Stickers, smiley faces, stars, etc. to keep or put on a chart are rewarding for some-usually younger students. 

  • You can use inexpensive tangible rewards effectively. 

  • Competitive students can use a chart or graph to set and then beat their own goals.

  • Keep a notebook with daily practice goals. Some students find it rewarding to go back and compare current practice goals with the goals s/he set when s/he was "a beginner." 

 

Monetary Rewards

  • Use money as a reward when the student is old enough to understand the concept of money and can delay gratification. Designate a specific amount s/he must earn to access the money.

  • Earn money to save towards an expensive item s/he wants, for example a computer, a bike, etc.

  • S/he earns different amounts based on the difficulty of the task.

  • Provide meaningful choices by making a menu of tasks and amounts. However, the system should not allow the student to select only easy tasks.

  • Earn money to buy a gift for someone or give to a charity. Allow him/her to keep a percentage of his/her earnings.

Web Design
Brian Cannon
Felicia Cannon,

Austin Music Center 2016
Revised 2017

Thank you to our many loyal customers. We appreciate your continued business and  the new customers you send our way. Word-of-mouth is our best advertisor. 

Many thanks to the schools, school districts, houses of worship, teachers and extra curricular fine arts programs for your excellence, effort and dedication to introducing and cultivating  a love of and an appreciation for the fine arts. 

We are proud to be part of this community.