Practice is your homework! It should be done every day, or at least 5 days out of the week. You might want to sit down with a parent and draw up a schedule for consistent practice times. While this time could change daily, it is better to use the same time each day so it becomes a habit.
How to Practice
- Don’t try to learn a piece all at once; take it in sections and practice a section until you can do it without mistakes three times through. Then move on to the next section.
- Remember the value of taking a section slowly, making sure that you play all the notes correctly and that you count through difficult sections. Worry about playing to tempo when you have the notes and the rhythm right.
- Learning a new piece of music is hard work. Reward yourself after a good practice session by playing a familiar and favorite work just for the fun of it. Think of this as the dessert after a meal.
- Above all, don’t simply repeat mistakes. Use practice to work out mistakes, not to reinforce them by continually repeating them. When you repeat mistakes, they are just that much more difficult to get rid of later.
A few tips for the really tricky trouble spots
- practice VERY slowly
- practice hands separately
- practice one measure at a time
How long to Practice
The times listed below are based on the average concentration span for a given age. Also, this time can be broken down into two or three sessions if you are having difficulty with concentration. Practicing at least five days a week should be the goal.
Age 6 and under: 10-20 minutes
Age 7-8: 15-25 minutes
Age 9-10: 20-30 minutes
Age 11-12: 30-45 minutes
Over 12: 45-60 minutes
To earn the status of a Practice Master, complete the following 5 days(!) in the week
- Warm up with your Technique and Artistry assignment or Dozen a Day exercises. Read the instructions in your Technique book carefully, especially since we don’t always have time to go over this in our weekly lesson.
- Complete your weekly Scale Challenge or Rhythm Challenge.
- Playing each song in your assignment 3-5 times. Refer to your assignment sheet for specific instructions. Consider the following variations:
- Play while counting
- Play and say the note names
- Play and sing the words
- Play and focus on artistry: dynamics (loud or soft), tempo (how fast or slow), staccato, legato, crescendo, diminuendo, etc.
- Complete any written theory work that may have been assigned.
Practice Masters will earn a sticker on their recognition page.
Practice Tips from DSO Kids