There’s never enough time to practice. Starting with this fundamental truth, how do you make the most of your limited practice time?
Quality beats quantity, and short but consistent quality practices will move you forward much more quickly than sporadic marathon sessions. The more creative and disciplined you are as a home teacher and practice partner, the more successful your practice sessions will be, even on your craziest, busiest day.
Here are 3 tips to help you get the most out of every session and keep practicing a positive, engaging experience for all:
- Use a timer.
Come up with a reasonable expectation of the amount of minutes your child will spend productively practicing (not including negotiating, complaining, drinking water, etc.), and then explain to your child that you’re going to set a timer and practice for those many minutes. Each time that you take a break (consensual or not) the timer stops. Set another time to see how long the breaks and procrastination are compared to the practice time!
- Make clear goals.
You’re not going to fix every problem in one practice, or one week, or the next year, but it’s still important to have a clear idea of what you’re working towards. You can also use the timer at this level: if your child needs help with their bow hold, decide that you’re going to spend 1 minute seeing how many fantastic bow holds they can make. If your child is more advanced, pick one section of their piece and set the timer for 2 minutes with a specific practice goal—separate hands for pianists, slow intonation work for strings, etc. (More ideas for advanced practicing will be coming on this blog soon! Keep your eyes out.)
- Stop while you’re ahead!
Behavioral training shows us the importance of ending on a positive note. Just because your child hasn’t fallen on the floor in exhaustion yet, does not mean you should just slip in another 2 minutes! If you stop on a good note, it will be much easier to pick up again the next day.