“Variety’s the very spice of life.  That gives it all its flavour.”– William Cowper, British poet 1731-1800.

“Practice time, darling.”

“I don’t want to practice today.  Practice is Boring!”  What follows next, is a quarrelsome half-hour, during which you attempt to teach a child to play various music teaching practice tasks correctly, several times in a row.  Does this sound familiar?

Well your child does have a point.  Practice IS boring, when it appears to consist of mainly of repetition for its own sake.  However, it isn’t easy, to do anything about it, when you’re in the middle of an argument.  When music teaching practice is finally over, it’s all too simple to to push the problem to one side, until it’s suddenly, it’s time for the next music teaching practice session.  If you want to make music teaching practice more interesting for you and your child, read on, for ideas on how to ginger things up with fun music games for children.

Your Child is an Musical Athlete.

Does a sprinter spend all his time, practising leaping from the starting blocks?  Or does he spend time on weight training and flexibility, running form and techniques such as acceleration and bounding, and on race strategy and visualization.

Your child is a musical athlete and as music teaching practice coach, your job is to help your inexperienced practicer to work on all elements of learning an instrument, rather than just repeating the first phrase of the newest piece.

Make Goals.

“Practice this bit,” doesn’t cut ice with me.  An instant cure, for boring mindless repetition, is to have a series of mini goals and fun music games.  This is where you, as music teaching practice coach, make absolutely sure that you understand your teacher’s practice instructions.  You should come away from the lesson, with notes on exactly what to practice, a teaching point for each practice task, and specific sequential instructions on how to perform the task.

Obviously your big goal, is to be able to perform the practice task correctly, at the next lesson.  A bit of planning will be useful.  Look at the teacher’s instructions and quite often you will notice that there are some really tricky bits that need to be got right before your child to play it through.  Give yourselves a schedule for nailing the tricky chunks.  There are three stages.  On the first day, talk your child calmly through each practice task.  For stage two just give gentle reminders.  Stage there requires you to ask your child what needs to happen before playing.  Afterwards, ask your child if he was successful.

Listening.

It is so much easier to learn a piece when it is already in your brain. Think of how a small child learns how to talk. This is not done in a vacuum, as he is surrounded, for most of the day, by people talking. Study listening can be part of the music teaching practice. This is serious listening, for a purpose, such as note learning and usually done while following the music with one finger.

Fitness and Technical Training.

How fit are your fingers? Can they cope with the technical demands of the piece that you are learning. All music is composed of scales and arpeggios, so wouldn’t it be a good idea to practice the scales and arpeggios in the key of the piece that you are learning. I don’t mean just roaring up and down them a few times. Ask your teacher how to make the tricky bits fluent.

Adding a Challenge.

OK, your child can play the music teaching practice task correctly, but can she play it while doing something else at the same time.  This isn’t as crazy as it sounds.  Adding a difficulty tests your child’s ability to perform under pressure, a very useful skill for your child when she is preparing a piece for performance.  There are fun music games in the 100 Day Practice Journal which are great for music teaching.

Enjoy Purposeful Reviewing.

When you have spent a lot of time working a piece of the performance standard, isn’t it a pity to leave it on one side, just so that you can learn another one.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a repertoire of pieces that you can play at a moments notice?  The way to do this is by reviewing your older pieces every day.

There will always be something specific which can be improved.  Just think of the world of difference between a performance of twinkle twinkle Little Star by a beginner and that of an accomplished musician.  There are many many steps to be accomplished between the two.  There is extra help in Review – Making it Fun, Gets the Job Done.

The Final Touch, Add a Game.

Make a card for every practice task with specific instructions on each and turn them into a lucky dip game.  Leap Frog is a good game for music teaching.  You can break down the tasks into separate hands, or whatever you like.  There are also some special micro activities to give to give your child a chance to clear the mind and shake out stiff muscles.  Duplicate anything that needs extra work.  With a lucky dip game, practice will never be the same two days in a row.

These are just a few ideas for making practice interesting.  When you help your child to focus with fun music games and music activities for kids, you will rarely, if ever hear her say, “Practice is Boring!”

 

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