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Practice Agreements

Practice piano parents

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#1 Love piano

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 22:20

I guess many if not all of us have had issues with students who don't / won't practice for whatever reason. My own approach over the past few years has been to conduct a free initial interview & take the opportunity to very heavily underline this point with prospective students / parents.

I suppose this has @90% success rate........but then there are the others! I was wondering about setting up a "Practice Agreement" between myself, the new student and the parent (if relevant) just to see if this slightly more formal approach might work. I guess I'm thinking it would cause people to really think carefully before undertaking lessons, if the expectations are written out & even require a signature!

Has anybody else gone down this (or similar route), and would you say it has been successful or not? I'm just mindful that our phones will be ringing soon with the 'New Years Resolutioners"!!!!!!!
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#2 Boogaloo

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 22:46

Hi!

I don't have a practice agreement but do the following:

 

*make it clear at my initial meeting with them that practice is expected (and I explain how much)

 

*use a practice diary with a grid in for noting how much is done on each day

 

*have a reward system (basically bribery) which parents agree to - each lesson that I feel a pupil has shown (at least) expected improvement I put their names in a box. At the end of term there is a big prize for the winning name picked out and there are smaller prizes for all of those whose names are in the box. The prizes sit on top of my piano so that they are a constant reminder (currently there is a large Cadbury christmas selection plus lots of chocolate snowmen!). All parents are on board as well as my adult learners - it's rare that someone does not get their name in the box! I've done this for just over a year now and it's certainly worth the small financial outlay. Parents think it's a great idea, so everyone's a winner!

 

Sorry I didn't exactly answer your question but thought you might be interested in my approach! :)


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#3 LearnerFlute

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 08:34

We don't have an agreement with our teacher where the teacher will leave if we don't practice but my daughter has a practice book from her cornet teacher. She fills it in very thoroughly and says exactly what to practice each day and for how long. My daughter then is supposed to practice every day and if she does the whole week, she gets a reward. I think the practice book has really helped my older one stay on track.

We all have music teachers in our house as we all learn something. I am not sure I would agree to sign a contract that said the teacher would leave unless we practiced a certain amount. I think if the motivation to practice is the fear of a teacher dumping me then I would feel unhappy all the time.

Learnerflute x
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#4 linda.ff

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 14:40

I can't see that - with mine at any rate - saying "Practise Lullaby for 5 minutes every day and March in G for 5 minutes every day" would quite work. What exactly happens during that five minutes - or one minute if used efficiently! - is more important than the length of time. After all, if you can already play it, that's fine, just run through, but if it needs attention, saying work on it for five minutes often just invites them to play their mistakes over and over. They usually know which parts I want learnt, and I'm quite clear that practice means learning and then improving. Too many of them don't include learning in the practice because they think they've learn it. Just the odd wrong note here and there. And there. And there. As long as there are wrong notes *you haven't learnt (that bit) yet* and you can't improve something you don't know.


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#5 Latin pianist

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 14:47

Two inherited pupils seemed to make little progress despite telling me they practised every day. I suggested they practised just one of their pieces each practice session, alternating between the 3 exam pieces they're learning,rather than ploughing through everything. After a couple of weeks they've both made great improvements. It's definitely quality not quantity when it comes to practice.
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#6 AnnC

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 16:48

I don't preach about practice, but most of mine do grades, whether AB or music theatre, and festivals, and almost without exception take part in biannual student concerts. I find the peer pressure of these instigates practice! There is also an award at these for the most improved student.

If, rarely, someone is not making progress on a piece or technique, then the lesson turns into supervised practice. Either way, it gets done.


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#7 Love piano

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 21:29

Thank you all for your input. Very helpful & insightful.
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#8 salmcCC

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Posted 17 November 2014 - 23:46

Some children (and adults too I'm sure though I only have one so can't comment) simply don't practise no matter how much you tell them, their parents tell them or you bribe or threaten them with privilege removals. I have one such pupil who could be great. She's a natural and limps along quite successfully without practise. I'm shocked her mum doesn't push her more as she is quite a pushy (in a nice sense of the meaning) mum so that's a little disappointing. But on the odd occasion she's worked hard at home she comes in with a huge grin and so proud of herself but then it's back to nothing for a few weeks. Nothing I say makes a difference. However this week she is due to get her 10th stamp which earns her a prize. But I've said she won't get that unless she's learned her new piece. It's a bit harsh but I've got to get her working. She wants to do her grade next time so she's going to have to pull her finger out. She's just turned 11 so it's not unacceptable for me to expect it. But it's so frustrating. And the annoying thing is she doesn't do any other extra curricula activities so there's no excuse. I don't think any form of contract would have made any difference. We all mean well at the beginning but it's sustaining that effort that seems to be the difficult thing for some.
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#9 mel2

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Posted 18 November 2014 - 09:01

I'm glad I've never signed such a thing, or I'd be out on my ear. :(

I've done precisely 50 mins practice on only one instrument in the last 10 days, such is the turn life has (temporarily)  taken.

 

I think I'd be rather put off a teacher that had me signing this, that and the other undertaking OR ELSE....

 

I'm looking forward to being able to concentrate on it all again, but a threatening music teacher is definitely not what I need just now.


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#10 linda.ff

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Posted 18 November 2014 - 12:02

Maybe they should all read Lang Lang's biography (Journey of a Thousand Miles) then what most of us ask of our students would seem like very little.

 

He did not get that good because of his naturally unfolding "talent".  It is because he worked at it, for many hours, every day, from being a toddler.

But it's more true to say that he "was worked" at it very hard. He may have been willing, but in every case of a child making excellent progress - I won't say "without  exception" because I'll have half a dozen examples given to me straight away of children who practised the violin for hours in a cold shed in the garden because their parents didn't approve - there's been a supportive parent, supportive to the extent at least of approving of their practising, better still knowing what they should be doing and encouraging them to do so, and in some cases even regimenting it as part of the day so that the child knows no other way, until the point when they're flying solo. It still boggles my mind that however many times I stress the point that without practice progress is very expensive an sometimes doesn't happen at all,  a small sub-section of my pupil list still turn up almost ervery week saying they'd "forgotten" to practise, or had been "too busy". Toddlers don't "work hard", they may be worked hard


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