Test Your Practice Skills

Anastasia Jempelis with a student
Anastasia Jempelis with a student

Dr. Suzuki told his students: “Only practice on the days that you eat.”  This is good advice, but it’s also important to evaluate the quality of your practicing.  It’s not just about the hours you put in, but what you put in the hours!  Suzuki’s triangle (student, parent, teacher) gives parents the vital role of guiding their child’s practice sessions at home.  Practicing correctly helps students develop self discipline, perseverance, and an increased ability to concentrate.  Years of parent led practice sessions prepare students to work effectively on their own as teenagers.  Most importantly, through practicing we develop and maintain the skills that allow us to connect freely and meaningfully with the music.  I’ll have a few more thoughts on practicing in future posts, but for now here are some helpful points that my former teacher Anastasia Jempelis put together many years ago.  Miss Jempelis asks that you “please answer this form as honestly as you would your Federal Income tax return.  Then, keep the form and test yourself again in a couple of months.”

Do you and your child
1.  understand the definition of practice?
2.  practice every day?
3.  understand exactly what your teacher wants you to practice?
4.  keep one goal in mind as you practice?

Do you
5.  keep a notebook?
6.  praise your child for a job well done so that their motivation will stay high?
7.  practice only as long as your child’s concentration is of a high quality?
8.  very gradually lengthen practice sessions if your child’s concentration is good?
9.  ask your teacher questions, so that you will be a good teacher at home?
10.  know when to stop a practice?
11.  use variety and creativity to make repetitions fun?
12.  do many repetitions so that the practice session is productive?

Some helpful “secrets” to remember:
1.  Be goal-oriented in practice.
2.  Keep motivation high.
3.  Lengthen and improve your child’s concentration.
4.  Try to be as good a teacher at home as your Suzuki teacher is at the lesson.
5.  Use repetitions to develop ability.  (The more good repetitions, the more ability).