How to Practice Effectively

“Mastering any physical skill takes practice”.   This interesting article and video from TED-Ed can be found at this link.  It explains how practice can effect the inner workings of our brains.  Enjoy!

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Practising without the Piano

Great ideas to practice on the bus, at your desk and more!

Melanie Spanswick

My most recent article for the Piano Professional Magazine (a publication for piano teachers, published three times a year by EPTA or the European Piano Teachers Association), focuses on working away from the instrument and using the mind to aid learning in a variety of different ways. You can read the original article by clicking on the link at the end. I’ve also added a downloadable practice PDF sheet, 10 Tips for Working without the Piano, which can be printed out for students (at the end of this article). I hope you find it of interest.


Back CameraPractising without an instrument. Just how helpful can this be? To some it might appear a rather curious concept, but as teachers, we know it’s a universally popular practice tool, and for countless pianists, a very effective method of learning.

The masters have routinely praised this form of practice; Polish pianist Artur Rubenstein…

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Parents and Practice Help

Most parents know the value of practice.  How can a parent – musically inclined or not help their child to develop good practice habits?

Children need parental help to establish a productive practice routine at least until they are 11 years old.  Help them to read their assignments.  Help them to keep their routine.  Encourage them to keep trying – even when the going is tough.  They can overcome many difficulties when they learn to keep a positive attitude,

Decide with your child when is the best time to practice.  Give them two or three options to choose from.  They will enjoy being an active participant in choosing their routine.  These chosen practice schedules should be kept every day such as any doctor or dentist appointment.  Consistent daily practice is the key to good progress.  Cramming for an hour the night before the lesson is much less effective than 10 minutes every day.  And don’t forget to practice on the lesson day!  Instructions are still fresh in their mind and will be better applied to their week’s work.

Give a visual feedback chart to record their practice.  Many charts are available to download.  Students may fill in with times or stickers.  You may even have a “thermometer” chart that could be coloured for each practice session.  Children may also be encouraged if rewards are offered after a certain amount of practice is achieved.  Rewards may be as simple as choosing a special dessert or as extravagant as choosing where to go for a special occasion.

Enable a successful practice session.  Make sure that proper lighting is available.  Do they have a distraction free place to practice?  Are siblings cooperative in allowing them to practice at their designated time?  Do they have all the necessary tools?  Do they need a music stand to hold their books?  Does their keyboard need new batteries or a power cord?  Is their chair/stool the correct height?  Is their instrument tuned?  Does their instrument need to be tuned?  Great guitar tuning Apps are available for free for most electronic devices.  I’ve also found that tuners that clamp to the guitar head are easily handled and very accurate.

Invest in a quality instrument to help your child experience beautiful sounds.  There are many great and affordable options that will give your child the tools that they need to truly experience music lessons. An investment in a good instrument ensures that you are receiving  the most benefits in your child’s musical education.

Record them.  This can be done with both photos and videos.  It will enable both parent and child to see progress over time and to create a wonderful keepsake.

Be involved!   Ask questions about their lesson.  What is their favorite piece? Here is a great resource of good questions along with blank cards to create your own.  Question Cards  Show them that you care about their musical abilities.  Brag about them to grandparents and friends.  Encouragement and taking an active part in their lessons will develop their confidence and desire to continue to develop their musical skills.

Not all children will become professional musicians, but all children may benefit from music study by developing life long skills and the enjoyment of music!

 

 

Recipe for Success: The first 6 months of piano lessons

1. Timetable practice into your daily schedule

2. Sit down once a week with your child for an intensive practice session together

3. Lavish praise and encouragement

4. Use bribes 🙂

View the complete article for more ideas- Diary of a Piano Mama

Diary of a Piano Mama

1. Timetable practice into your daily schedule
Seriously.

Nothing but nothing but nothing (but nothing) will replace actual time spent on the piano, each day.

With any luck your child will have a lovely time spending 30 mins each week with a piano teacher – piano teachers are notoriously lovely people, after all. If you have chosen the right piano teacher who chooses the right piano method for your child, your child is bound to have fun and look forward to going along to lessons each week.

Any student is likely to be able to move along and progress through a method book just by playing once or twice each week – it’s not rocket science, after all.

However, no one is born with “piano hands.” And prodigy is developed and nurtured – not some kind of divine blessing.

If you have decided to make the investment in piano lessons…

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I Make My Children Do Music (VIDEO)

Great thoughts on a child’s music practice and how to motivate them.

Sara's Music Studio

ChildsHandsPianoLessonImagine this… it’s the very beginning of Tommy’s piano lessons. He’s 8 years old and totally psyched about learning to play the piano. He practices constantly, without reminders, and with gusto.

Fast forward a bit… Tommy is 10 years old and practice is starting to wane. He’s involved in more activities, which makes practicing piano difficult to schedule, and it’s starting to become a struggle between Tommy and his parents. After a fight about practicing, Tommy tosses his piano book to the floor and yells the dreaded phrase… “I just want to quit!”

Don’t worry, parents… you’re not alone in this fight. This morning I came across a great video from Scott Lang, a nationally known leadership trainer and music educator. Check it out:

Excerpt:

“We make decisions each and every day in what’s not only the best interest of our children right now, but in the…

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FOUR VOCAL EXERCISES FOR THE ADOLESCENT SINGER

Reblogged from Izzie Chea

Adolescence is a time of great change, both, physical and emotional. The adolescent singer is especially vulnerable when his or her voice changes seemingly overnight. As the young singer approaches and pushes through puberty, his voice may drop an entire octave. This puts him in an awkward and self-conscious position when participating in voice lessons or choir. Rather than shy away from participating, it is best to take the challenge of strengthening his voice through the change so that he comes forth from this temporary phase even better equipped than before.

Here are four strengthening vocal exercises that can help power a male or female adolescent singer through those difficult puberty years.

Sirens. This exercise is a staple in building the chest, midrange, and head voices. A siren can be done at the beginning of each voice lesson, in each of the student’s ranges, including their low, middle, and high range. The siren in head voice is especially helpful for young men to help strengthen their falsetto.

Fifth Descending Passages. I find fifth descending passages to be an effective exercise to strengthen the developing voice. Starting on “do” then jumping to a long “sol— fa-mi-re-do” gives the adolescent singer a solid foundation in their chest or midrange voice to sustain their breath up to and past the new break in their voice. This exercise allows the singer to power through the register bridges as the adolescent voice adjusts to its new sound.

Octave Jumps. Octave jumps are an exercise in diaphragmatic breathing, accuracy of notes, and confidence. As the young singer learns to take in a breath that will sustain a large jump into the high register, they notice the confidence it takes to aim for accuracy. Most young singers will have just enough air to squeak out the octave but not enough to sustain the jump back down. The exercise is begun on an A3 or A below middle C to A4 sung twice, then back down to A3 sung twice, with the following syllabic enunciation: “YAH–AH-AHH–AH-AHH.” Continue this exercise ascending chromatically until the student has achieved their desired range.

Staccato Do-Mi-Sol-Mi-Do. As the adolescent singer works through their register bridge, accuracy is difficult to achieve. Staccato exercises are helpful in coordinating epiglottis opening and closing, forcing the young singer to listen carefully to guide the voice in the right direction. As Do-Mi-Sol-Mi-Do is a simple melodic line, focus can also remain on vowel and tonal quality in addition to accuracy. This exercise furnishes the adolescent singer with the tools to sing with greater flexibility, as is necessary for the maturing voice.

A special word of note: Adolescent voices are constantly changing. Whatever exercise works one week, may not work the next week. Persistent practice will be the key in developing the student’s voice, as singing is a “use it or lose it” skill. The more frequently the adolescent singer practices, the greater chance that they will emerge from their teenage years with a round, healthy, well-developed singing voice.

Sound Off: What exercises helped get you through your adolescent singing years? Is there a technique you are willing to share that worked for you?

References:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/02/everyone-can-sing/385340/?utm_source=SFTwitter

http://blog.musikalessons.com/2013/05/the-best-age-to-start-singing-lessons/

http://www.leedberg.com/voice/pages/handle.html

http://www.vocaltechnique.info/adolescent-voice-change.html

http://www.robertedwinstudio.com/supplemental-singing-exercises.php

http://www.voice-talk.net/2013/04/staccato.html