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Practice targets


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#16 Aquarelle

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 13:54

I don't set practice times.I set tasks to be achieved by the next lesson - rather like school homework having to be given in by a certain day. When children ask how many times they should repeat an exercise or a couple of troublesome bars I say "Until you can do it without hesitating." I make sure that the targets are attainable or nearly attainable and I expect evidence of improvement even if the results are not entirely without hesitation.

 

Last week I had a boy who has just gone into his first year of secondary education and who claimed to have too much homework to be able to practise the piano. So I timed every thing he was supposed to work on at home and it came to 2 1/2 minutes.  I told him if he spent 21/2 minutes every day at the piano he would be bound to show some signs of improvement before the next lesson and that I didn't want to hear again that he hadn't time to practise.. As this was the second (though not consecutive) time he had done no work at all I said that the next time there was no evidence of work I would e-mail his mother and explain to her that I knew this was a difficult year at school but that I didn't really think 2 1/2 minutes per day was asking too much. (I should perhaps add that this is a family I know well and with whom I have a positive relationship.)


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#17 peri busy

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 14:44

I set practice in different ways, depending on the student. I find that asking for a set number of repetitions from teenies works. It will always be for short tunes that I know they can manage and will enjoy and may be just three repetitions a day. Little and often helps to reinforce.

Intermediates need a combination of repetition and dedicated focused learning practice - sections etc.. Advanced pupils are expected to be more independent and, following on from my guidance in lessons, are requested to use their time productively from week to week - strengthening explored areas and working on any new material. Each pupil has a personal lesson notebook, which has notes from me from each lesson for guidance and serving as a reminder. I might add that unless the students apply themselves, this can all be to no avail. I am currently struggling hugely with two non progressers. Still waiting for an acknowledgement from one parent to my communication to them re their child's lack of application at home. Nada. It can be like pulling an elephant's teeth sometimes. 

 

So I'd say, perhaps a little trial and error at first to see what works best for each pupil and be prepared to mix it up too, so there's variety for them at home too.


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#18 adultpianist

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 05:36

As an adult I have tasks set which I adhere to.   I have tasks set for piano and flute.  It helps that I do not have lessons on both instruments every week.   I could not cope with that because the amount of pressure each week to practice would drive me mad.  I have weekly piano lessons and flute every two weeks.  I can cope with that because that means I can do my piano every day give or take and with the flute I can be more relaxed about when I practice as long as I do practice and some progress is made which it is.  I think I practice flute three times a week.  Is this enough bearing in mind I have a full time job and a home to run and friends that I like to socialise with.

 

When I decided to take up the flute I begged the teacher to allow me to have lessons every other week and explained that for the reasons I mentioned above it was impossible to have weekly lessons.   Thankfully she agreed


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#19 Clarimoo

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 08:30

I also suggest 10 minutes a day for young pupils. I was a bit uneasy when the father of a new 5 year old pupil - who is doing extremely well - told me last week that she practises for 30 minutes every day. I praised her progress, but gently suggested that this was not needed at this early stage. t'm not sure that I convinced him, though. My fear is that her obvious enthusiasm for playing the piano might change if these long practice sessions are enforced at home. 

Maybe it isn't "enforced", maybe it's just what she likes to do.smile.png


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#20 jenny

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 09:08

 

I also suggest 10 minutes a day for young pupils. I was a bit uneasy when the father of a new 5 year old pupil - who is doing extremely well - told me last week that she practises for 30 minutes every day. I praised her progress, but gently suggested that this was not needed at this early stage. t'm not sure that I convinced him, though. My fear is that her obvious enthusiasm for playing the piano might change if these long practice sessions are enforced at home. 

Maybe it isn't "enforced", maybe it's just what she likes to do.smile.png

 

I haven't been able to find out yet. The child is doing extremely well and seems to really enjoy playing, but I'm aware that the parents are probably setting rules about practice. I've told them that 10 - 15 minutes is all that's required at this age, but they seem to be very proud that she's doing more. My worry is that she's repeating her short exercises and pieces so many times in each practice session that this might take away the enjoyment and fun for her. I'm intending to talk to them again in this week's lesson. 


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#21 Aquarelle

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 21:12

Has anyone else ever set absolute zero practice? I found myself doing that today. It is extremely rare for my pupils not to practise. However one little boy who has just gone into the first year of secondary education has been flagging and two weeks in a row said he hadn't had time to practise. I had already realized this child was going to have difficulties at school  this year and had lightened the load. This evening it was obvious that he hadn't touched the piano all week. - despite the fact that last week we calculated that he need only do ten minutes twice or three times and that would cover his exercise, piece and theory.

 

So we got down to having a discussion about this and  he said he didn't much like playing the piano, that his mother wanted him to but that the main reason for his reticence  was that he took ages every evening to do his school homework and couldn't cope with piano either before or after that. I have known this family for many years and have taught five of them. Mother was once a good pianist  herself but father thinks music is unimportant. Mother struggles to interest the children and says it's important for them to have an artistic activity. An older sister plays nicely, a younger sister is on the way to playing quite nicely and one  older brother has now moved on to higher education elsewhere but still plays for pleasure. Another older brother has given up as he has been sent to boarding school and can't cope with extras on account of ill health. Father  doesn't think much of music and  would rather they did "tough" things (he's a military man). Their financial situation is tight.

 

The pupil concerned, in my opinion, actually does like music more than  he thinks at the moment. Until now he has seemed keen and has enjoyed his pieces and as he finds learning difficult in general this was a plus for his self esteem.. He has never done an exam because of the financial difficulties but he is around Grade 1 standard. We had a long discussion on how he is coping (or rather not coping) with the demands of the various subjects he has at school. I came to the conclusion that piano practice was the straw that breaks the camel's back and that if I insisted he would become stressed and end up hating music. So in the end we came to an agreement. He won't do any practice at home for the moment. We will simply spend the half an hour lesson doing musical activities together until such a time as he finds he can practice again - or perhaps he will practice a bit during school holidays. Now this means there isn't going to be much progress and I am going to have to find a variety of things we can do to keep his music ticking over. I wouldn't do this with every pupil but I just have a feeling that this boy will miss out on one of the few things he is good at if I let him go now. I admit I also put in a bit of bribery as when he said the English teacher at school goes too fast for him, I offered to give him a hand with that too.

 

So next week it will be legitimate for him to arrive having done no practice. I suppose I shall have to swear him to secrecy as I have three other boys in his class at school  and I don't want an epidemic! However those boys are all coping quite well.


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#22 adultpianist

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 23:03

As an adult I can only do what I can do because of life.   I was also asked if I could swap with another student because they wanted my slot this week.  I was not given much notice so I said no because it was inconvenient.   I have never asked to have a different lesson day that meant swapping with another pupil.   The only time I have taken another slot was if the slot was empty.   Why would a teacher allow this to happen or assume it is reasonable 


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#23 BadStrad

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 23:25

Why would a teacher allow this to happen or assume it is reasonable

It isn't unreasonable to ask. Everyone has situations in life that means they might need to change an arrangement. Asking if some one can help with that is ok. No one is forced to accommodate the request. I think many people would swap if they were able to because one day they might need someone to swap with them, but only the most selfish person would expect another person to swap if it was inconvinient. So the teacher would ask because they want to help their pupil. It doesn't mean they expect a different pupil to suffer as a consequence.
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#24 Aquarelle

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 13:44

Well, my pupils all know that they are welcome to arrange swaps between themselves if they need to. If, for example, a  pupil suddenly has to miss a lesson because they have raging toothache and need to go to the dentist they are at liberty to change with any pupil who is able and willing to help out. All I ask is that, if possible they let me know they have changed and that if possible the exchange is made with someone who has a lesson of the same length. Most of the time they do let me know but sometimes they don't or I don't read the message in time.  I am fortunate in that as I always  teach in the same room, where I keep all my teaching materials, so it doesn't matter if "Thérèse"  turns up for a Grade 4 flute lesson"  when I was expecting  "Jean-Pierre" for Grade 2 piano. I teach several large families and brothers and sisters often swap. It's no big deal.


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