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#14423 - 06/02/03 10:56 AM Re: Practice Sheet
Arlene Steffen Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/20/00
Posts: 2972
Loc: Fresno, CA USA
My experience: most kids don't even look at their practice sheets. If they have things to check off, they simply take a pencil and check them off without even knowing what it is they are checking off. I can't tell you the number of times a student has said (even after going over it in the lesson by practicing parts and all), "Oh, that piece was on my assignment? I forgot!"

My response: "There is no excuse for forgetting. It's written right here in your assignment book."

"My Mom forgot to tell me to practice it."

"It's not your mom's job to practice. It's YOUR job, your responsibility."

I find that most of my students practice what they are to practice and more when they are involved in practice in the lesson, help set goals, mark things in their music themselves and then summarize what we covered at the end of the lesson.

Some of them ask for specific things written in their assignment books and I do that. Most just get page numbers and piece names, maybe a short reminder note.

I think my students practice pretty well because we practice together in the lesson and they are learning what practice and problem solving is.

I used to be big on forms and tracking things, but no more. Occasionally, just to bring home a point, I will have them track their practice time for a week, but that activity is limited and effective for its purpose.

I do maintain records of materials we have covered and I check off their CM skills, but that's about it.

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#14424 - 06/02/03 07:24 PM Re: Practice Sheet
John Offline
Star Member

Registered: 03/29/01
Posts: 2454
Loc: Bellingham, WA
Does anyone use Nancy O'Neill Breth's "The Piano Student's Guide To Effective Practicing"?

Probably not for younger students, but I may use its 34 "tips" in my assignments in the Fall, as well as providing a space for metronome mark progress.

RE: Questions ~

How about:

I met all of my goals.
I met most of my goals.
I did not meet any of my goals.

Better yet, a column where this question could be answered for EACH piece (a simple check in box 1, 2, or 3).

Of course this assumes that the student and teacher have set realistic, specific goals!

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#14425 - 06/03/03 06:17 AM Re: Practice Sheet
pianoannie Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/20/01
Posts: 946
Loc: midwest USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by John:
RE: Questions ~

How about:

I met all of my goals.
I met most of my goals.
I did not meet any of my goals.Of course this assumes that the student and teacher have set realistic, specific goals!

John, you beat me to exactly the kind of comment I was going to make. I was thinking that the aforementioned suggestions of "I practiced enough/I practiced almost enough, etc" are pretty vague for students. A student's definition of "enough" can certainly be different than ours! But if there are specific goals for each piece (ie complete 1st page HT, be able to play 2nd page HS with met 112) then hopefully the student will see that he clearly did or did not meet that goal.
But back to the topic of recording minutes, which seems to be falling out of favor these days (I've been reading some of the excerpts of Practice Revolution over on practicespot.com), I'm not convinced a minimum daily practice time is a bad thing. Now granted, 30 minutes a day (or whatever) may not be enough time to meet the weekly goals, but I don't think it's wrong to tell a student that, in general, they should plan to practice "x" number of minutes.
I read somewhere recently (perhaps Keyboard Companion?) that in general, it takes 10,000 hours of practicing a skill for a person to become a master of it (not talking about only piano, but anything). Think about Olympic gymnasts or ice skaters--it's not uncommon to hear them say "My daily routine includes 6 hours of practice daily" or whatever. They don't say "Well, I just practice on Monday until I can nail the triple toe loop, and then my teacher says I've met my goal and I can go home." It does take long-term committed practice to become proficient at anything. I plan to continue assigning a suggested "minimum daily practice time" (and that is exactly what I call it), because I believe students need it to continue progressing well. They do know that they are to meet the goals we set together, which may take longer than their daily minimum practice time. They also know that if they have finished everything in their assignment book for that day (which generally includes sightreading from a lending library book in addition to the specific pieces that were assigned) and their is still time left in their "mdpt" then they should play personal favorites as well to complete their time. But they should never spend less than 30 minutes (45, 60, or longer for my intermediate and advanced students) at the piano each day. (well, 5 days a week is what I assign).

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#14426 - 06/03/03 06:29 AM Re: Practice Sheet
GeeTee Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 12/26/01
Posts: 391
Loc: Midwest
Pianoannie, well said. I too recommend (5 day/week) minimum practice times based on level. However, I have this one boy (13) who never puts in a full 30 min. a day, BUT, he does practice 20 min. EVERYDAY! And it shows. While he's not the most talented player, he has made great progress this year with this practice routine. On the other hand, I have this other boy (15) who practices 4 days usually (anywhere from 30 to 40 min. at each sitting). This is also been verified by his mother who sits in on the lesson. Well, this boy (same approx. capabilities as the other) is stalling out. He is rarely ready with his assignment and we end up spending most of the lesson in supervised practice. Both boys are ADD, rather passive in that they spend more time in front of an electronic monitor of some type, accademically bright, and non athletic. For the first boy, the shorter but more frequent practice sessions are working. The second boy hasn't figured that out yet.

Aside from minimum practice recommendations, I just tell all my students to practice every day they eat!! ;\)

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#14427 - 06/03/03 01:34 PM Re: Practice Sheet
NancyK Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 03/27/03
Posts: 644
Loc: North Dakota
LOL GeeTee....if they practice as often as they eat, well they'd be getting somewhere!
I sometimes tell students that practice should become a daily habit just like brushing their teeth. And since most watch TV a certain amount of time everyday, I suggest they choose the show they can most give up and then use that time at the piano.
Really..it's a matter of choice for everyone. They say it takes 21 days for something to become a habit so sometimes we set that goal and once they are in that habit it IS so much easier to do it. Also..sometimes the difficult part is just getting to the piano. Once they are there they enjoy practicing and playing music. I know for myself that sometimes it is an effort to stop whatever I am doing and just get to the piano but once there I do not want to quit. Some students have shared the same thing with me.
WELL....I interrupted my own practice to read here and now I have only 25 minutes till my first student of the day arrives, so I had better get back at it so I can practice what I preach!!!! ;\)

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#14428 - 06/03/03 08:42 PM Re: Practice Sheet
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
 Quote:
Originally posted by John:
Of course this assumes that the student and teacher have set realistic, specific goals!


You ought to assume that the student & teacher have set the ***same*** goals. If the student's goal is to goof off & come to lessons unprepared, or to practice as little as possible & slide by... & the teacher's goal is for the student to practice & come to lessons prepared... then there's a conflict, no?

For the record: Whenever a student asks how much s/he should practice, time should not enter into the picture. The teacher's answer should be, "As long as it takes for you to complete the assignment." Some students won't need to practice much, while others will have to practice a lot.

[ 06-03-2003: Message edited by: Jalapeņa ]

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#14429 - 06/05/03 06:23 AM Re: Practice Sheet
Vivace' Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 1717
Loc: USA
I send home a calendar each month with studio activities and space for students to record their practice time.
During the lesson, goals are set for each piece and HOW to practice. These are written in the assignment book and often sticky notes are placed on the page with notes on "fixing" the problem areas.
It's pretty irrelevent what you put on the practice sheet....after 30 yrs I've tried it all. You either have a motivated student, or not......if they don't get the job done,
they either Can't or Won't. We can help the Can't ones, but let's not waste our valuable time on the Won'ts.
_________________________
Then let us all do what is right, strive with all our might toward the unattainable, develop as fully as we can the gifts God has given us,and never stop learning." ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

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#14430 - 06/05/03 10:01 AM Re: Practice Sheet
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
I don't know if this would work in the States, but in Costa Rica each of my students received at least one 60-min. weekly lesson. Only half of the lesson time was spent on instruction. The remaining time was a supervised practice session. Students were given the choice of going home after their 30-min. lesson or staying an extra 30 mins. to practice on my piano (with me listening & coaching when necessary). The tuition was the same no matter what, so most students stayed for the entire 60 mins. By the time they left to go home, their pieces were 99% mastered. The result was that my students came to each & every lesson fully prepared. Those who took two 60-min. lessons per week made even faster progress. Other than giving my students a general guideline of the # of times they needed to go over each piece at home, I didn't provide them with any sort of written practice guide or chart. The practice tips they received from me during their weekly supervised sessions sufficed.

[ 06-05-2003: Message edited by: Jalapeņa ]

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#14431 - 07/05/03 08:53 AM Re: Practice Sheet
GeeTee Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 12/26/01
Posts: 391
Loc: Midwest
[QUOTE]Originally posted by GeeTee:
[B]To the far right of the sheet for each area of the assignment (warmup, review pc, new pc, theory) are 2 small columns marked "ready" and "not ready". Here the student can place a check to indicate how they feel their progress on the assignment is coming. [B] [QUOTE]

I started using my new assignment sheets for my summer session and have discovered some very interesting things...

Even after going over specific practice goals, writing them on the sheet, etc., some students don't seem to understand what constitutes "ready". Two students (not my brightest and best either), both had several items checked "ready" yet, to me, it was quite apparent that there was still quite a ways to go to reach "ready". For the one boy who's working on Lion Sleeps Tonight from Funtime Popular, the goal was to be able to move from section to section in time. He is to be aiming to be able to play it fluently with the cd accomp. We worked on practice technics in the lesson to help him reach this goal. Btw, he's had this piece for 5 weeks (3 of which were during my summer break and he was working on his own). Well, anyway, at his last lesson, he had this piece marked ready, but there was no noticable improvement in the fluency between sections. He is not able at all to stay with the cd.

I failed to ask him directly how he practiced the moves (I will next time), but was quite curious why he marked ready.

Like Arlene mentioned previously, perhaps some students will just mark whatever withoug really considering the meaning of what they're marking.

Also, this means I must take a more direct approach to making sure students know exactly what "I" mean by ready, and then give them the tools to get their. This may be a good way to find out more clearly how aware the students are of their practice accomplishments.

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#14432 - 07/10/03 06:01 PM Re: Practice Sheet
Marcia Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/18/00
Posts: 354
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
I hit on an idea for a summer assignment sheet that has had *amazing* results so far. I changed to a super simple design with space for about 10 assignments and to the right of each assignment a line of 10 stars. The instructions are to color in one star each time you play 3 *good* repetitions of the assignment. I don't know what the difference between marking a box with an X and coloring in 1 star is, but I'm not complaining. Everyone is marking their practice down and is actually practicing during the summer. Of course, it helps that 1 star = 1 music buck! This new simplified sheet has solved nearly all of my major problems with practice. Funny thing is, no great amount of thought was put into this idea. I put it together on a whim! The elementary, jr. high, and sr. high are all responding well to this idea.

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