Make Practice Fun: Piano Play Dates

Do you have students or kids of your own who HATE piano practice? There are so many reasons why kids hate practicing piano, but one of the main reasons is that it can be LONELY. With a little imagination and planning, though, piano practice can be a social event! Watch the short video below to see how…

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Cure For Practice Boredom

bored

Are your students bored at the mention of practicing? Or maybe YOU are bored with your practicing? The truth is practice for practice sake is rather boring. BUT just because practice is necessary in order to improve does not mean that students or anyone else who has to practice (which is EVERYBODY who plays music) has to accept being bored. Boredom is simply the result of not having a goal for what you’re practicing. So, the next time you send your students home to practice, send with a goal or 2 or 10! OK, maybe 10 is too much but you get my point.

If you’re looking for ways to “fun up” practice, check out these previous posts:

Don’t Spill The Beans

Mystery Practice Assignments

Silly 6 Pins Can Help You Practice!

Don’t Practice

End The Practice Wars by Applying These 2 Laws

“It’s not what you do, but the way you do it that matters!”

Music theory. Keyboard topography. Rhythm. Ear training. Technique. All these are essentials of learning to play the piano, however, success in teaching these skills is determined by the WAY these skills are taught.

One of the biggest complaints of piano teachers and parents of piano students is that the child will not or does not want to practice. If you can relate to this, then allow me to give you a life changing piece of information:

Law of Love

Parents are busy. Sometimes they feel that they are too busy to sit and listen to their child practice piano. These same parents listen to music all the time while they are working and doing important things. So, what is the problem with listening to their child play music? It just might be that the music their child is playing is unappealing or uninteresting to the parent. Eliminate this problem by getting to know the musical tastes of the parents in your studio. A simple question in passing can get you this information. “Who’s your favorite artist / style of music / song?

Similarly, when dealing with older students (tweens and teens) there is another law you must know as a piano teacher who wants their student to practice:

Law of Friends

To sum it all up, music lessons should equip students to play music that they, their friends, and family enjoy hearing. The successful piano teacher knows this and abides by the law at all times!

Here are some additional FREE resources to help get you started on the road to ending the practice wars in your studio:

Teen Toolkit by Tim Topham: A FREE downloadable toolkit for teaching teens. A must read!

http://colorinmypiano.com/2013/04/09/free-printable-12-bar-blues-in-c/: Introduce the blues – no note reading, just cool sounds

8notes.com: Free riff lessons of popular music

http://www.teachpianotoday.com/2012/03/01/piano-recitals-are-like-totally-like-lame/ : Keep kids practicing with cool performance opportunities

Jazz for Kids : Use 5 finger scales to teach jazz to preschoolers

Don’t Let School Holidays Sabotage Piano Lessons

Yesterday was Labor Day here in the United States and that means we did not have piano lessons. Knowing that the holiday was coming I gave my students more than enough material to work on for two weeks. Experience has taught me, though, that they probably won’t work diligently for the whole two weeks. In fact, they may even come back with a list of reasons why they did not have time to do it. I’m hoping that this won’t be the case this year because within the next day or so these students will be receiving a special piano challenge from me in the mail!

The most important aspect of this challenge is that it is coming through the postal service. Kids LOVE getting mail! Why? Because they never get any! Unlike the piano notebook, they WILL read mail that is delivered to their home. Their parents will probably read it too!

Now to the challenge – Using free printable Major Minor match cards from Anne Crosby Gaudet at http://pianoanne.blogspot.com/p/free-printables.html, I created an assignment and attached it to the back of one of the cards.

Scale Patternchallenge

 

Next, I wrote a short note to my student explaining the challenge and stating how much I’m looking forward to the next lesson:

challenge letter

This final step is important – Address the envelope to the student, not the parent!

Now, I get to wait and see what happens…

If you are interested in an idea to get students to look inside their piano notebook every night, check out my previous post on Mystery Assignments.

 

Musicians, Athletes and Practice

“Musicians are small-muscle athletes, so the same principles of physical conditioning which apply to athletes also apply to musicians.”   – Barry Green in The Mastery Of Music: Ten Pathways to True Artistry

Summer Celebrations : Finding The Perfect Piano Accessory On Vacation

Awesome Takes Practice

I found this mug at Fresh Market in Hilton Head, SC while on vacation last week. The piano teacher in me couldn’t resist!

What If I Make A Mistake?

Mistakes Are GuaranteedWith concerts, recitals, and holiday performances just around the corner both students and teachers are starting to feel a case of the butterflies. I know I am! Teachers wonder if they will have all the students prepared in time. We wonder if the programs will get printed in time, if the sound system at the venue will be working properly, if there will be enough food for the reception. Students wonder if they will mess up on stage. They worry that they might trip on the way to or from the piano bench. They are tortured by a multitude of what ifs – one of the worst ones being what if I forget my song?

It’s been said that there are no guarantees in life, but actually there is one! As I was re-reading the Sept/Oct 2012 issue of Making Music magazine, the words of Glenn DaGrossa- a music teacher in New York – jumped off the page at me:

“As human beings, mistakes are guaranteed”

Well doesn’t that just go against everything we are working towards in rehearsals and practice?

Actually, this fact – and it is a fact – must be at the center of our rehearsals and practice. We must prepare not only to play to the best of our ability, but also prepare to handle the inevitable mistakes we will make. Our goal must  not  be a flawless performance, but a fantastic performance! Flawless performances can be flat and sterile, whereas fantastic performances are those that may or may not have noticeable mistakes but definitely connect the audience and performer to each other.

So, let’s all do ourselves a favor and recognize that mistakes are guaranteed. With this thought in mind, let’s proceed to practice with a greater purpose than perfection in mind.

Let’s practice with the goal of communicating and connecting through the music. That’s the kind of music that brings people together!