Five Practice Steps for Beginning Students

I love working with young beginning students. Our lessons are always full of imagination and creative exploration and I always learn so much about myself as a teacher.  However, we all know that when learning a new instrument, productive practice time at home is essential to learning and developing as a musician.  I've found the following practice steps (based on the suggestions in the Music Tree series) to be effective in developing successful practicing habits in beginning students.

Hope they are helpful to you!

1. PREPARATION

Think about what this piece may be about and how you want it to sound.  Look at the title, the illustrations, the lyrics, and any expression marks.

2. RHYTHM + MOVEMENT

Swing your arm like a pendulum, across your body and speak the text in a strong rhythmic pulse.  Use one full arm swing for each quarter note and two full arm swings for each half note.

3. KEYBOARD POSITIONS

Look for places where you need to move your hand to a new position on the keyboard.  Find your starting position and practice these moves by floating (rather than sliding) to each new position.

4. SIGHTREADING

Play through the piece in a slow, steady tempo, singing or speaking the name of the first note and the interval and direction of each note that follows.  For instance, “Treble G, up a second, down a second, up a third, down a second, down a second.”

5. EVALUATION

Ask yourself if that performance sounded the way you wanted it to sound; why or why not?