This week I want to sing the praises of some of the wonderful LEGAL ways in which I use photocopied music to help parents and children to focus on what really needs to be practiced.

Photocopying music, instead of buying it, is theft.  DON’T DO IT!  However, it is perfectly legal to make study copies of music that you have already bought and this is where the fun starts.  In fact, my favourite practice aid is the photocopier.  Here are some of the many great uses for photocopies, to get you started.  There are many more general focus ideas in the 100 Day Practice Journal.

Do you, or your teacher write important instructions on your child’s music?  While this may be initially helpful, the cumulative effects of a few weeks of notes and reminders, crowding in on each other, are confusing, a mess of colored highlighter, layers of vital instructions in smudged pencil, crossings out and sometimes even lumps of correcting fluid.  No wonder many practice instructions get overlooked.

You can neatly avoid this by photocopying your music and using separate copies for each stage of learning.

Clean Copies:

Sometimes the printed copy is already cluttered, with editorial directions on interpretation, which aren’t strictly necessarily for note learning. Never mark the original. Make a copy and whiteout anything, that isn’t necessary, with correction fluid. You can make as many photo copies of this as you need.

Goal Setting:

Working towards a goal is highly motivating.  Mark copies for each goal.  Of course, you can subdivide goals into steps.

Enlarged Copies:

I ask my beginner parents to make enlarged copies of book one.  These are ideal for the early stages of sight reading.  Parents and children listen to the music while pointing to the notes on the score.  They quickly realize that each round black blob is a sound and that you read from left to right, just as you do when reading words.

Study Listening:

It is useful to listen with the score open in front of you. This is a very good way of focusing on specifics, that you have marked a copy, such as notation, bowing, rhythm, etc.

Note Learning:

Make copies for left and right hand skills.  Often, one section of a piece will contain new skills to learn for both hands.  For example, “Song of the Wind” in Book one contains a jumping third finger and bow retakes, both of which have to be learned separately.

Form and Structure:

From the very beginning, I use marker pens, to highlight the different sections of the piece. This gives parents and children a very clear idea of how the pieces constructed. It’s a delightful surprise, to notice that several sections are are marked with the same color, “Wow, we only have to learn those once!”

Dissect and Stack:

Cut the copy onto small sections, as many as you like for each trouble spot.  Put them into a lucky dip pile and work through them every day.  Once your child can play them reliably, join them together.  As you will have lots of copies of the trouble spots, you can continue to work on perfecting them separately.

The Lesson Copies:

Take two copies to the lesson, one which you have filled in with anything you didn’t understand when your child was practicing and a blank copy for the teacher.

•1  Questions for Teacher:

Would you be more likely to remember questions, that you want to ask at the lesson, if you had somewhere special to write them?  You can write them down, when they occur to you, on a blank copy of the music.

•2  What Teacher Notices in Lesson:

I am reluctant to mark the original music, with notes on everything that I notice in a lesson.  Fresh photo copy makes all the difference.  I can write on it, color code it and even cut it up into sections for micro tasks, without destroying the original.

Making photocopies will make it much easier to focus on what needs to be done, in each week’s practice.  You will have easy access to a clear record of each stage of learning, without having to search through weeks of lesson notes.  Try it and see for yourself.

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