By Julia Kossuth
As we’ve begun the spring semester and gotten back into the swing of music lessons post-break, I’ve noticed a few practicing habits–or lack thereof–that I want to address with my students. Here are a few of the tips I walk them through during their lesson or have as a handout for them.
1. Some of my students have a set time that they practice each day, but many have a different practice pattern every week. Depending on the student, I will talk through their upcoming week with them and help them decide and see when they will have time to practice. With other students, I can simply suggest that they plan some practice time and that is a sufficient reminder.
2. Another reminder that I give consistently is to not simply play their piece(s) repetitively without stopping to work on difficult passages and practice “smartly”. I’ve found that even if students have done this in the past, a reminder never hurts to get them back in good practice habits.
3. One musical element that I find slips through the cracks is perhaps one of the most important–the musical elements, like dynamics and mood of the piece. I let my students use different color crayons to mark the dynamic, articulation, and mood markings. The next step, of course, is to make sure they follow the markings.
4. Finally, for my older students, I remind them keep a pencil handy to jot in finger numbers, etc., to minimize repeated mistakes. This kind of efficient practicing habit is one that I’ve seen take time, but certainly helps as the student gets the hang of it.
What are some practicing habits you try to instill in your students?