“FALL”ing into routine

ava pianoI hate to say it, but summer is almost at an end. As sad as it is to see it go, I am getting so excited for the return of my students, routine and the hustle and bustle of the music year.

It can be difficult to transition from the lack-a-daisy schedule of the past eight weeks to a regimented schedule of homework and music practice, but I find the fresh start empowering. It is a chance to try a new and improved daily “plan of attack”. For students, this is a time of “new music year resolutions”.

Here are some tips to get you started on the right foot:

  • Schedule practice time into the daily routine. (morning is best if you can make that work – children are fresh and alert) Keep practice short and fun for young children. Older children should be reminded to have a goal for each practice. (ie. master the LH notes,  tackle the ending HT, up the speed using the metronome, memorize the first passage) A specific goal will ensure that some noticeable progress is made each day.
  • Be sure the piano or keyboard is in a practice friendly spot within your home. The room should be bright, cheery , inviting and quiet. If you must put your piano in a storage room, spare room or basement area of your home that isn’t finished, hang colourful posters, paint or add furniture to  create a space for your child that is comfortable and attractive. If your child enjoys his/her practice spot, he/she will be more likely to frequent the area more often.
  • Start a home practice incentive. One of my families kept track of songs that had been learned. When my student reached 25 songs, she was able to choose a family outing. (swimming, out for ice cream, movie, bowling) You could keep track of practice time by putting a penny in a jar for every minute practiced. How many pennies will you have to spend at the end of the month or the year? Or perhaps you could give them to a charity. 
  • Each week after your lesson, do  your first practice as soon as possible. Once you have taken your books out of the bag and have begun working on your assignments, you are likely to continue to work at it. Problems arise when the books do not escape the music bag until the end of the week when there is only a day or two left before the next lesson.

With only two weeks left before lessons resume, it is a great time to sit with your child (or if you are the student…sit with your parents) and come up with a game plan so you can enjoy a successful music year.  Remember that practicing is catchy…the more you do, the more you do. Playing becomes more satisfying and more fun with each successful session.

Best of luck with your practice plans! (and it wouldn’t hurt to sneak a few more s’mores in while you can as well!)

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