5 Numbers You Need to Make Your Kid a Good Musician- and Printable Practice Charts

The following is reblogged from Heather of Moderately Crunchy.

Keeping kids motivated during the winter semester is an uphill battle, and we need parents to help!

Here’s the hard truth: not even Yo-Yo Ma can make a child an excellent cellist with one lesson per week. (Sub in whatever instrument your kiddos play in that analogy). My job as a music teacher is to teach your child how to practice because- you ready for this?- your child will never learn an instrument unless they practice at home.

Sooo… how much should your child be practicing? How often should he practice and for how long?

Well, I’m glad you asked! I wish I could say I was basing this on hard evidence and studies, but I’m not. This is my personal and professional opinion, based on my combined experience in both music and psychological development.

Here are the 5 Practicing Numbers You Need to Know~

~ 5 Days a Week

Kids do best when they practice most days. Consistency lends itself to progress, and it also helps cut down on the practice battles. When practicing is a part of the daily routine, kids push back less. In our home, we take practice breaks on lessons days and on Sunday.

~ 10 Minutes Per Year of Age, Per Week

I recommend that my students practice a minimum of 10 minutes per year of age per week. For example, my four year old has to practice a minimum of 40 minutes a week. I would expect a ten year old to practice a bare minimum of 100 minutes a week. Bare minimum.

~ 15 Minute Practice Sessions

It takes time to warm up and start “thinking musically”. Kids do their best learning as they get into the practice session. With that in mind, practice sessions should be a minimum of 15 minutes long. As tempting as it may be to throw in a five minute mini-session to round out a practice week, it’s not productive time.

~ 1 Year Per Level

Parents often ask me how long it should take to get through one level of books. Many method books are formatted to get through in one year or less. If your kid is languishing in a level for two or three years, it may be time to re-evaluate either your practice schedule or interest level (or maybe, possibly your instructor, but that’s a whole other can of worms).

~ 30, 45, 60 Minute Lesson Times

Many students start out with a 30 minute lesson time and get stuck there. Beginners do well with 30 minute lessons, but intermediate students need a 45 minute long lesson. Advanced students need a 60 minute lesson and may even need lessons more often than once a week. If you’re unsure what level your child is at, ask your instructor.

Do you need to shake-up your practice routine to get through winter? I’m sharing my studio practice charts in an instant download with you. I love practice charts that can be used for long-term goal setting (ie. more than one week). For practice charts to work well, follow these steps:

Establish an incentive. In a perfect world, all kids would practice for the sheer love of music. You can get your kids there, but it’s going to take some prodding along the way. Set an overall practice chart goal and then pick a prize at the end. I use a treasure box full of candy and small toys in my studio. You can also try going out for dessert, choosing a family outing, or extending a privilege as rewards.

Use it! Once you’ve chosen your chart and an incentive, post the chart in the open and refer to it daily. If you forget about the chart, your kid will forget about practicing.

Keep it up. Fill out the chart, reward with the incentive, then immediately start a new chart. This is how good habits form.

In this download, you’ll find:
Punch Cards (similar to an old-school lunch ticket)                                                                           Race Game Board (looks like a board game)
Blackout Bingo Cards
Race to 1000 minutes (race car themed with tens charts)

How to Warm Up Your Voice

muzeek:

Love the info graphic!

Originally posted on Sara's Music Studio:

Vocal warm ups are an absolute must in my studio. Warm ups give us the opportunity to check in with our instrument to make sure it’s working properly. Students spend approximately 1/3 of their lesson time working on warm ups and vocalises, some of which might sound a little “odd” (see “Vocalises Do Not Always Sound Pretty“).

My favorite analogy to use with students is one about running. A runner wouldn’t launch into a cross-country trek without warming up their muscles first. The same goes for singing. It’s important to warm up our vocal folds before we sing. Warm ups let us “stretch” our instrument before we use it, and they can also serve as a diagnostic tool to let us know how our voice is feeling and functioning that day.

Not sure how to warm up your voice?

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How to Read a Fake Book

muzeek:

Next step- improvise over the chords!

Originally posted on Take Note:

By Kevin Harper

History of Fake Books and Lead Sheets

Imagine this: you’re a famous jazz player; you’re busy on the road going from gig to gig. One day you come up with a great tune and want to write it down and orchestrate it for your ensemble, but orchestration takes a long time. So instead, you write down the melody and then write out the general chords and any potential rhythms. When you read it during the gig (for the first time no doubt!) you and your bandmates have a general outline of what needs to happen – everything else is improvised. Because improvisations are different everytime, writing down the “correct” way of playing any tune in the old days was impossible.

As jazz grew in popularity, everyone wanted to hear all the popular songs, but the problem was that many of these tunes were hard to find or…

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Making Memories for a Positive Performance

muzeek:

Steps to successfully prepare for a memorized performance.

Originally posted on 88pianokeys:

IMG_2720

Last spring’s recital had a beach theme–can you tell?

Apparently I’m not the only one scarred by a horrendous memory black out during a recital. Riding home with fellow adjudicators from a nearby Federation of Music Clubs Festival, I discovered that others have endured unforgettable and traumatic experiences where the memory bank crashed during an important performance. As I’m preparing my students to participate in a local Federation festival that requires memorization, it’s critical for me to equip performers for NOTHING but a successful experience. I do not wish to pass along my personal past performance scars to anyone.

Playing for an audience is already risky but playing from memory for others including adjudicators could be equated to walking a tightrope.  If performers are going to tip toe on that high wire, it’s important that a safety net is below ready to catch them when, not if mistakes occur and…

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