Parents & Students are asked to provide the following for best results;
If you do, you will have more success and more fun.
For Parents & Families:
* Parents and family need to BE the Fan Club: be enthusiastic and supportive of the student’s efforts! Provide time opportunities to show off. Small rewards never hurt either (stickers, trip to ice cream parlor, etc.)
* Parents need to provide age appropriate supervision of practice sessions and establish good study habits. If you need suggestions, feel free to talk to me. Help your student with the discipline of sitting down and concentrating. In a few months you will discover their ability to do this will greatly improve, as will their homework from school!
* Understand that a young student may not have the attention span yet. Hold on, the attention span should increase dramatically over the next few months. In the meantime, you may wish to do the practice in two or three separate times.
* Always keep a good instrument in good repair. Plan on having your piano tuned twice a year. Any instrument must be minimum standards. A poor instrument that sounds bad is a frequent cause for drop outs. Would you want to ride a bicycle with twisted wheels and a chain that keeps jumping off? An advanced student may need to upgrade to a better instrument.
* Be Aware that taking the summer off, means 2 or 3 months to get up to speed again and the end result in only about 7 months progress per year.
* Be prepared to stick it out until Musical Fluency is reached. (Both parents & students) Count on this taking several years. Until this point, a student really has no way to know if this is what he/she wants. Be aware that plateaus will be reached at times, where it may feel like no progress is made
What to Expect and what is expected:
Students who do will do better
* At Lessons, we: Warm-up first, review and update music in progress, check theory, ear training or flashcards(sometimes), go over new things, and do the music lab (an extra 10 – 20 minutes before or after the lesson)!
* At home you should always: Warm-up (all scales, trills, exercises, technical things, Hanon, chords, etc.), Read through any new music looking for patterns and instructions, Practice each piece as needed, Complete Theory, or work on Ear training, Flashcards &/or Memorization and Review old music.
* Use the Assignment Books. They list all things to be done. Please read it each week. Complete and sign off the practice record each week. A Practice Calendar page is available for more detailed practice. Copy as needed. I will mark items in the Assignment book with a star for “making expected progress”, a triangle for “well sort of”, and a check for “not on track or missing”.
* Why Theory & Flashcards? While is not the music itself, this is what a student needs to read and understand music fluently. It is a key to musical success. Students will have it every week. The Flash Cards are to support the student’s theory learning and should be studied at least twice a week until a given card has 3 stars.
- Understand that the theory or reading is meant to prepare for the music you want to play. If you do not do your theory - YOU WILL NOT DO AS WELL OR GET THERE AS FAST AS YOU COULD.
* Plan to attend Group Sessions, staying for Music Lab, Field Trips and other activities. Students who do will do better!
* Bring ALL Music, Flash Cards and Completed Theory to class each and every week.
General PRACTICE ADVICE for STUDENTS
* Successful and rewarding music study depends on consistent daily practice. So, SCHEDULE a Regular Practice Time. Before school, before bed, at 4:00 or whatever works. Remember that unscheduled practice rarely happens and you will not get very far! 30 minutes is only a minimum and is necessary if you expect to progress at a normal rate. Increase this time by 5 to 10 minutes per year. More practice will mean you will advance faster. How fast do you want to go?
* NO INTERRUPTIONS - like phone calls, friends or chores in the middle of practice time. And, turn off distracting noise makers like TV's, radios and games.
* WARMUPS First, Every Day!
* GOOD POSTURE IS ESSENTIAL: If you look like a pretzel, you will probably play like one too. Sit up tall, facing the piano, legs in front. Keep fingers curved (nail tips on the keys), (you need short nails) wrists should be flat (no keyboard wraparounds or tents and definitely never bent backwards). Not using good posture can create anything from discomfort to permanent damage. If needed use books, stools or boosters to be comfortable.
PRACTICE OF A NEW PIECE SHOULD INCLUDE:
- Study your music looking for all the details and patterns.
- Clap and then tap all parts of the piece first, especially the melody, as needed to help yourself.
- GO SLOWLY & COUNT EVENLY! Using a Metronome can be very productive.
- At the beginning of every song, speed does Not help. The right speed is the one that you can play correctly at.
- Play the melody until you know it!
- Play everything Hands Alone.
- Play the hard bits Hands Alone (HA) and then Hands Together (HT) and at first 3 x's correctly and later 3 x's correctly in a row
- Then play the whole piece or section slowly the 1st time or 2 each day.
- As time allows you might do the whole piece 3 to 5 times.
- The final time, be sure to play straight through, without stopping for mistakes.
- Afterwards, go back and work them out.
- As a simple rule, each piece, 5 x's daily
* Large pieces: break it up into smaller pieces: If the piece is hard or complicated, play it hands alone, count out loud. Do it pile by pile, measure by measure, phrase by phrase, and section by section. Try backward practicing, where you play the melody or the whole piece by phrases backwards from the end of the music. This is ensures that if you lose your place, you don't have to start all over again. Especially good for recitals and memorization.
* Find what works for you. You may do better to play each piece 5 times a day. Or, you may need to do each piece or a part of each piece 3 times, correctly, in a row and work your way up to more times. You may practice more effectively in 2 twenty minute practices… Each and every student is different.
* If you can find a recording of the music you should listen to it a lot. Home recordings, the library and the internet are all good resources. At a more advanced level, be sure to listen to several different recordings by different artists.
Realize & Remember
* There will be plateaus where it may feel like no progress is being made. This is always true for any developing skill (like basketball or football).
* You have a choice: play something the wrong way fast, spend lots of time unlearning, and relearn it the right way, knowing all the time that under stress, like a recital, mistakes come back to get you, OR do it right slowly & carefully and build to the speed you want. 4 times as much work or not? Hmmmm….
* You Will Make Mistakes. Practicing is all about correcting mistakes. Don't expect to be perfect at first.
* The general rule of thumb for any instrument is 7 years to mastery.
* The more advanced you get, the longer it will take to work up music. After all we are doing much more!
Practice is working on what you Cannot do!
Above all - PRACTICE!!! All "talent" is 99% sweat.
"Life is like a piano - what you put into it is what you will get out of it"