Establishing practice habits

One of the most important aspects of learning an instrument is to establish regular practice habits.

I urge students to carefully consider their most suitable practice times. If the student is a young child then the parents must consider this their full responsibility. If possible, the same time each day facilitates consistency, but with family, work, sporting, community commitments this often isn’t possible. I’m a firm believer in writing down or constructing a table on the computer then displaying the practice schedule in a prominent position as a reminder to both parent and child.

I also urge actually putting the practice times into your calendar/ phone with a reminder alert. This requires advance planning and the acknowledgement that practice is as important as any other appointment.

Daily practice is ideal and Dr Suzuki casually states that practice is only required on the days we eat. Students who practice daily definitely progress more quickly than students who practice less frequently. I am realistic though and urge students to practice 5 or more days/ week consistently.

Practice schedules need to be modified often according to the current goals. Ticking off the practice session once complete is often motivating. It’s also very useful for both the teacher and student to see when the practice actually happens.

For younger children, in particular, simple rewards can be very motivating, eg a lovely sticker when five days of practice is complete. Generally, as children age, the intrinsic reward of recognising progress may be sufficient, but even for adults, an occasional reward is satisfying when a practice schedule has been adhered to for a specified time!

Practice apps are also very helpful. A range of practice apps are available for those families who enjoy devices to motivate and monitor their practice.

Happy planning and practising!

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