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#14383 - 02/21/03 09:26 AM Practice Sheet
CR Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/18/01
Posts: 289
Loc: Idaho
I'm trying to come up with a neat way to design a practice sheet to send home with my students. Each week they all come to me saying they hardly got any practice in (I appreciate them telling me so) but this excuse has gone on far too long and not having practiced much is slowing down their improvement and capability of playing the repertoire. Therefore I need to resort back to sending home practice sheets, this time stating they must come back signed by the parent. My one problem: coming up with the practice sheet itself! How should I do the layout - monthly? weekly? Should it be left plain or add some graphics to make it interesting? ah, which reminds me... I'm going to request that the student gets in at least an hour a day, 6 days of the week.

sooo, anyone up for suggestions?
_________________________
It goes without saying that technical proficiency should be the first acquisition of a student who would be a fine pianist.
~S.Rachmaninoff~

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#14384 - 02/21/03 09:40 AM Re: Practice Sheet
pianoannie Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/20/01
Posts: 946
Loc: midwest USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by chopin's raindrops:
I'm going to request that the student gets in at least an hour a day, 6 days of the week.


I'm curious what level of students you mostly teach? My beginners are only asked to do 30 minutes 5 days a week. And unfortunately they don't all accomplish that amount, although I'm trying to get tougher. Your idea for a practice sheet sounds interesting. I do have students write down their practice times in their assignment books (although I know that # of minutes is not nearly as important as how effectively they are actually practicing and following my instructions). I get so tired of students saying "Oh, I forgot to practice that piece." I've started telling them, "I don't expect you to remember everything in your head! That's why I write it down for you! I don't want to hear that excuse again!" grrrrrr.

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#14385 - 02/21/03 10:24 AM Re: Practice Sheet
Carole Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/08/00
Posts: 2229
Loc: southern California
Mine record their practice on calendars. Any size, shape, computer-generated, bought or made by hand. At the beginning of the year, I try to get multiple calendars(freebies) from banks, stores, etc and hand out because they always forget into March :rolleyes:. The parents can initial. It works pretty well.

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#14386 - 02/21/03 11:00 AM Re: Practice Sheet
CR Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/18/01
Posts: 289
Loc: Idaho
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoannie:
I'm curious what level of students you mostly teach? My beginners are only asked to do 30 minutes 5 days a week. And unfortunately they don't all accomplish that amount, although I'm trying to get tougher. Your idea for a practice sheet sounds interesting. I do have students write down their practice times in their assignment books (although I know that # of minutes is not nearly as important as how effectively they are actually practicing and following my instructions). I get so tired of students saying "Oh, I forgot to practice that piece." I've started telling them, "I don't expect you to remember everything in your head! That's why I write it down for you! I don't want to hear that excuse again!" grrrrrr.


I have an early intermediate student, late elementary, intermediate, and one adult beginner. But I most likely won't have the adult record lesson time because she's overall good at practicing. Besides, if I had any beginners, then yeah, I wouldn't require an hour a day. I've suggested that they start out at 30 minutes, then gradually increase practice time. So that's not/hasn't been an issue there... it's been a while since I've had a beginner child.

True, the number of minutes recorded isn't as important as how they're practicing as you say, pianoannie, and I realize that. Somehow I've got this crazy notion that since I'd require a signature from the parent stating their child did practice this week, somewhere in the kid's practice, effective work would be achieved. no? that's just a random thought I have out there.... Wouldn't you think the parent would make sure their child is practicing the amount they write down, and then perhaps listen more to the practicing at home? hmm... just thinking aloud here.

Not including my adult student, 2 of my students give me the impression their parents aren't involved with their music at all. It's just something done for the child, and all the parents have to do is make sure they get their kid to a lesson every week. :rolleyes: Anyhow...

Carole, good suggestion! I'll keep that in mind.

[ 02-21-2003: Message edited by: chopin's raindrops ]
_________________________
It goes without saying that technical proficiency should be the first acquisition of a student who would be a fine pianist.
~S.Rachmaninoff~

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#14387 - 02/21/03 11:24 AM Re: Practice Sheet
pianoannie Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/20/01
Posts: 946
Loc: midwest USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by chopin's raindrops:
True, the number of minutes recorded isn't as important as how they're practicing as you say, pianoannie, and I realize that. Somehow I've got this crazy notion that since I'd require a signature from the parent stating their child did practice this week, somewhere in the kid's practice, effective work would be achieved. no?
[ 02-21-2003: Message edited by: chopin's raindrops ]


I hope I didn't sound like I was criticizing your plan. Yes, hopefully, at least some effective practicing is taking place. I guess I was just kind of thinking outloud, that I haven't come up with a perfect way for students to keep a record of their practice. Some teachers tell their students to practice each piece "x" number of times daily, and of course that doesn't adequately address the need to stop and work extra on troublesome spots. Some of us tell our students to practice "x" number of minutes, and some students might sit down and play Star Wars 21 times in a row until the timer buzzed. ;\) It seems that no matter how hard I try to instruct my students in the proper way to use their practice time, many still seem to not be using their time efficiently. Sometimes I'll paste a post-it note right on top of a measure of their music, as a reminder to stop here and don't go past until you get the previous measures correct, or other little helps like that. Or I'll circle a trouble spot in pencil and write "10 times daily before playing the whole song" or whatever. But they still seem to "forget." arrgghhh. Actually just this week I typed up something new on my group classes' assignment sheets. We're working extra hard at keeping eyes on the music, even at the large hand moves. So I typed in "write down the day of the week that you successfully played this whole piece without peeking at your hands." I'm anxious to see if anyone bothered to read it/do it. I stressed it in class, but we'll see. I've also been known to sneak in something like "initial here if you actually read this page of instructions that your teacher took the time to write out for you."
\:D

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#14388 - 02/21/03 11:41 AM Re: Practice Sheet
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
Reminds me of a job I had where memos came regularly from a top guy - but always with these god-awful vocab words that I'd have to look up. I finally bumped into him and asked what's up with the odd vocab. He said it's an old army trick to find out who's reading the memos! So - - - put strange words in there and see who notices!

BTW, when I ask for students to record practice time, I usually just place a line of boxes across the page, one for each day of the week, and just ask that they put an X in the box for each day they practice, and have their parents sign. It usually always encourages the student to practice more, but seldom do the parents sign. I also tell them to practice each item listed in their assignment book, rather than practice a set # of minutes. If they run out of time, the next day, after warming up, start where they left off the day before so that by the end of the week they have practiced everything as much as possible. Seems to work.

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#14389 - 02/21/03 12:07 PM Re: Practice Sheet
Marcia Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/18/00
Posts: 354
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
Wow! Compared to some teachers I am really "nitpicky" about assignment sheets. Mine are a grid with space on the left to list the piece/section to be practiced, next column a specific number of repetitions on each item [this often goes by groups of 2-4 measures],a middle section of check off boxes for 7 days of the week, and a far right column for teacher comments on specifics in that piece. I use a music buck/treasure chest incentive program and they earn $1 music buck for each page or section they successfully complete. If the piece or section still needs work they review it until they can perform it well. If they "pass" I check it off with a tally mark in the far left margin. At the end of the lesson they receive $1 for each tally mark I've made. At the bottom of the sheet there are "excellent" "good" "fair" & "needs improvement" to be circled by me as an indication of their general lesson preparation. Those who consistently get excellent and good lesson ratings recieve a music achievement trophy at the spring recital. Parents sign for K-6th grade, 7-12 grade students may sign for themselves. If it's not filled out for more than one week the student and I have "the talk" about not rejecting responsibility for practice and recording their practice. More often than not, if practice is not recorded, they didn't do it. Parents get a phone call for those who need to be more diligent regarding practice or recording it.

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#14390 - 02/21/03 01:35 PM Re: Practice Sheet
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
I have a hard time getting most students to keep a record of their practice times; & when they do, the amount of time doesn't seem to match their level of preparedness.

For example, a PA1 student logging in a total of 430 minutes for the week (signed by parent), but not having all of his/her pieces prepared (I usually assign 3-4 pieces, so if this bright student really practiced 430 minutes, his/her pieces would be mastered & memorized. It's not acceptable, IMO, to practice 430 minutes & still be struggling to get through the pieces. Either someone is fudging the practice times, :rolleyes: or the student is not using his/her practice time efficiently (is not following directions, because I provide all students with detailed practice directions so they can make the most effective use of their practice time).

I find it's best just to hold students to 1 measurement of progress: PREPAREDNESS. I expect the student to come each week with his/her assignment fully prepared; doesn't matter to me if it takes a student 15 minutes to learn the assignment, or 150 minutes, or 300 minutes, or more. Just spend whatever amount of time needed to learn the pieces. The time will, of course, vary depending on student's level of study, natural abilities & intelligence, & (of course) on the level of parental involvement (if parents don't care, student most likely won't care; acorn doesn't fall very far from the tree). If asked how long I think a student should practice, my answer is always the same: However long it takes for him/her to learn his/her assignment.

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#14391 - 02/21/03 01:47 PM Re: Practice Sheet
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
Marcia, my son took lessons for a short time from a teacher who did just as you do. He became panicked within the first day or so because he didn't have all the boxes checked off. I told him don't worry, just do as much as you can. Each day he saw how far behind he was and panicked more. He quit within three weeks and I attribute it solely to the over-expectation of accomplishing and recording a myriad of practice tasks. Not that it wouldn't work wonderfully for certain students - it just didn't work for my son (an honor student and very responsible kid).

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#14392 - 02/21/03 04:38 PM Re: Practice Sheet
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
I just recently quit sweating bullets about such things. A few weeks ago, my Asian student's mother told me that her son was afraid that if he didn't have his entire assignment ready, I'd "fire" him. While I wish that all my students cared that much about arriving to lessons prepared, his reaction made me stop & think about whether or not I as a teacher should make a major big deal about whether a student completes his/her assignments or not. I turned to my student & told him that I only "fire" the lazy students who never work on their assignments, ;\) then I told the mother not to worry--that if any part of his assignment needed more work, I'd simply help him & give him more time to prepare. They both looked visibly relieved after I said that. This week, the boy came to lessons with 1 piece in need of work because he didn't practice enough. He also apologized for not logging in his daily practice minutes (he usually does log them in; he's the only student of mine who does). I assigned the piece again, & told him that it needed more work. I also told him that I'm not as concerned about practice times as I am about how well he prepares his assignments. I don't know what his parents thought, but I'm going to quit worrying about how long it takes a student to get through a level.

[ 02-21-2003: Message edited by: Jalapeņa ]

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