I’ve been on a bit of a mission lately, as most of my students would tell you if they had the chance, to get students not just practicing more, but practicing effectively and efficiently. And I think the mission, so far, is a success. Or at least, it’s a successful start to an ongoing mission.
So what does that mean? ‘Practising effectively and efficiently’?
To explain this, we have to walk a few steps back to the beginning of the story – to the lessons, and the students’ progress (or lack of).
These are the problems I am confronted with every single day of my teaching….
- Students who don’t practice enough
- Students who practice enough without it appearing to do any good
- Students who progress a huge amount in lessons then seem to almost go backwards during the week
- Students who practice enough but practice the wrong thing
But for each of these students (and there are a great many that fall into one of these categories), most of their problems stem from this….
Students don’t know how to practice
And this is because….
Students are not taught how to practice
The solution has everything to do with the last sentence; that students are not taught how to practice. This makes the problem, and the solution, my responsibility.
Hence the mission.
So what are the reasons why students don’t practice well? (I’m assuming here that the students genuinely want to have piano lessons, they are playing repertoire that they enjoy, they get on well with their teacher, and they are not under any type of external pressure that is playing havoc with their self-esteem or confidence.)
Apart from the obvious lack of taught practice skills…
- They are scared of making mistakes
- They get bored of repetition
- They have unrealistically high expectations of themselves
- They have unrealistically low expectations of themselves
- They believe the myth, ‘Practice Makes Perfect’
- They feel frustrated when they don’t get something right first time
- They feel upset and stupid when they don’t get something right first time
- They think I always get everything right first time
- They have never been asked to work autonomously on anything before
- They got away with very little practice at the beginning and have not adjusted to their more advanced repertoire.
So, onto the Practice Project; a project that will see me blogging various articles on practicing over the coming months, posting videos of my own practice sessions, and posting resources to help students get the most out of their own practice sessions.
I have multiple aims here –
- To replace the ‘practice makes perfect’ myth with the real aim of practise; ‘practice makes permanent’.
- To not only post my mistakes via the video footage, but to actually highlight them, showing to students how many mistakes we professionals actually make, and how we deal with them, and most importantly, that mistakes are okay!
- To give as many different practice strategies as possible, including improvisation, and explain their uses.
- To encourage breaking pieces up into small workable sections – making practice more accessible and ‘do-able’.
- To post resources to help with practice timetabling and strategies.
I hope I achieve what I set out to do – to enable students of all abilities and ages to develop autonomous, effective, and efficient practising.
For more details about my teaching practice, including prices, vacancies, and information on distance theory marking, or learning piano as a beginner, intermediate, or a post-grade 8 student, please go to lynnephillipspiano.moonfuit.com