Squeezing music teaching practice into busy family life doesn’t work… or does it?  Read on, for how one teacher used this simple tip from The 100 Day Practice Journal.

Our teacher has announced that Hannah has to practice every day.  She helpfully says that we should link practice to an activity which happens every day in our family.  I suppose I should make more of an effort.  There’s a twenty minute slot, every day before we have to pick Charlie up from school.  We could fit in Hannah’s practice then.

Well, here goes!

It takes a few minutes to get an instrument out of the case, and to tune it.

“Practice time Hannah!”

“Hannah, what are you doing?  Come here please.”

“Come here NOW!”

Now let’s see what’s next on the practice list?  Oops, I’ll have to look that up in the notebook.  Grr… where did I put it?

“Ready Hannah?”

“Come on, bow in the string!”  Oh why can’t she pay attention?  By the time she’s ready to play, it’s almost time to leave to get Charlie and we still have to put the instrument away safely and find the car keys and get Hannah into outdoor clothes…  Oh I give up!!!

After a couple of days of this, I realize that, when I try to squeeze twenty minutes of practice into a regular twenty minute slot, it just doesn’t work.

By Hanna’s next lesson, I’m very fed up and her poor teacher get’s an ungrateful mouthful of my frustration.

“When I said link practice with an everyday activity, I DIDN’T mean squeeze it in.  That’s just asking for trouble.  Squeezing practice into busy family life doesn’t work.  It causes way too much stress in a busy family life.”  she says.

She advises me that I should still link practice closely to the daily activity, especially if the practice follows on.  Delaying doesn’t work, as all it accomplishes is to teach us me how to procrastinate and, what is worse, how to feel guilty about it.

What is required isn’t a squeeze, but a little decompression time.  I need to find a time slot which LARGER than the time I intend to spend on practice.  This allows you time for the inevitable hiccups, finding lost notes, getting the instrument ready, engaging Hannah’s focus, getting ready for the next demand on my time, etc.  I might be spending less time on the actual practice (we are a busy family, after all), but it will be easier to make it a daily activity.

Allowing more time than necessary and setting the timer, so that I stop in time, makes us both feel safer.  We have chosen a new music teaching practice time, after lunch.  As soon as the dishes land on the kitchen counter, we race to wash hands and beat each other to the practice spot, where we share getting ready.  We both feel busy and purposeful.  After 20 minutes practice, there is still plenty of time to relax.  Using the kitchen timer helps me to respect this valuable time.  I’m less stressed and it’s getting easier to get Hannah to start on time.  Charlie appreciates being picked up by a nicer, more relaxed mummy, too.

If you like this simple idea, try The 100 Day Practice Journal, for more strategies on how to put a stop to stressful practice sessions.


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