Ensuring Successful Practice

Fruitful practice at home is the result of what you do at the lesson.

The student should be prepared to practice correctly. He should understand what practice is not. He should go to the piano when he is ready to concentrate and not to expect perfection immediately (if at all!). The student also needs specific techniques that he can draw on when he encounters a problem. You will have to teach him these things.

Practice is most effective if the student is working with specific goals for the session, not a vague idea to "improve."

With children, specific goals most often translate into specific areas (measure 3, lines 4 and 5) that you wish repeated a certain number of times. This is easy for the child to track. The child should help set the goals and enumerate the practice tasks that will help him reach those goals. You will have to help a child, but give him as much autonomy as he can handle. And don't be afraid to let him misjudge what he can accomplish in a week (too much *or* too little!); this is how he leanrs. You'll be surprised that in very short order you and your student are perfectly in sync with the number of repetitions that are needed for an area. A teen or adult should take on this responsibility almost single-handedly. You merely codify his choices, using the assignment pad, fine-tuning the student's ideas or refocusing any goal that seems too broad or too limiting.

A child may need a parent's help. Make sure the parent knows what you want him to do (and what he should *not* do!).

Remember that most of the learning in piano study happens at home. Take time and effort to structure it so that home practice is as effective and as productive as possible.

copyright 1996, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
Contact me for reprint permission.

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