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#14393 - 02/21/03 04:39 PM Re: Practice Sheet
Marcia Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/18/00
Posts: 354
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
Sorry I have to disagree, Lilla. [And maybe I didn't communicate my ideas very well.] My students are not expected to practice a bunch of assignments that will be overwhelming to accomplish each week. They have a manageable number of assignments according to what they say they can each handle individually. They all understand that each practice day they need to check off only 1 box per assignment, working their way down the sheet, thereby completely practicing their whole assignment for that day. It is the marking off of their practice on each piece that enables them to focus on what they *have* accomplished, not on what they *haven't.* They are not lectured in their lesson for not practicing 5 days a week. They usually know when they are not well prepared and end up saying to me, "I need to review that this week." In this way I am teaching them to practice, which, in my opinion, is what all students need to learn to be functional and independent musicians. For many of my students I don't need to be this specific because I've had them for years and they know how to practice. For the young ones, or transfer students, though, they need to have manageable practice units that they can complete on 5 days of the week. I do sympathize with the problem your son had. Theoretically, you could look at the grid after 2 days of practice and say, "I have so much to do, I'll never accomplish it." OR You can look at the grid after two days of practice and say, "I did my assignment exactly the way my teacher wants for 2 whole days and now my pieces are so much easier. I know I'll be able to play well at my next lesson" i. e.: "The glass is either half-full or half-empty." BTW, I just started doing it this way this year and the parents love it. I find the students are focusing on doing their very best in at home practice so they can play well at their lesson in order to "pass" their pieces. Good musicians know the wisdom of "divide and conquer." I'm just helping them understand and experience exactly how to do this. After a while they start dividing their own pieces into phrases or practice sections on their own. It sure is exciting to see them do this! I do feel strongly about this issue because the discipline of a method like this helps them experience a great deal of progress in a short time and feel good about all they are learning. I'm satisfied that for my students (52 and counting ...) this approach has been very successful.

#14394 - 02/21/03 04:51 PM Re: Practice Sheet
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
I think that having the family get a handle on the child's entire weekly schedule is much more important towards establishing effective practice habits, with or without a fancy assignment sheet. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!)

Having a child illustrate a weekly schedule of everything on their plate and how piano practice is supposed to figure in on that can be quite eye opening to all. Especially the parents. :rolleyes:

To do this, take a half sheet of poster paper and divide into 7 days. Then give the child a box of markers and let them go to town. You can help them block off hours of the day is necessary. Students like to draw beds or moons, etc. for nightime as well as TV's and cookies for when they come home from school and have a snack! It's quite fun to watch parents and children interact on this, especially when the professional soccer mom figures out that all of those extra activities and car rides to them add up to zero opportunity for practice! When I start my new studio, I hope to incorporate this hands-on activity BEFORE lessons begin.

Now if I could just figure out how to make piano practice as rewarding as even the earliest levels on Nintendo games I think I would be set! \:D

#14395 - 02/21/03 05:00 PM Re: Practice Sheet
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
Great suggestions, Lisa, though I believe that should be done before the student is enrolled in the studio... not after.

Am I the only one that wonders why so many folks have a problem with time management?

#14396 - 02/21/03 08:16 PM Re: Practice Sheet
Amily Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 03/26/01
Posts: 547
What my piano teacher did, and what I did for about five years with my students, was just a simple spread sheet with 9 columns, and enough rows to fill the page. The first column is for you to write the date in, and the next seven columns are for the days of the week, which they check off or write in amount of time they practiced for each day. The last column was for a lesson grade, A+ to F, depending on the amount of practice, how well the pieces were played, and attitude at the lesson. (You could use the grade column for a parent's initials).

The only problem is kids who forget to practice will also forget to mark their practice sheet, and kids who don't forget to practice almost always forget to mark their practice sheet. I remember when I was a kid that I would go into my piano lesson, whether I practiced or not that week, and before I saw my teacher I would check off several of the days on my sheet. I was such a liar \:o .

I quit using the practice sheets with my students because I got tired of always grabbing their folder and finding that once again they hadn't marked anything (or the occasional liar like myself who marked off all the days even though it is obvious to me that they haven't touched the piano at all.) Instead I just ask them at the beginning of the lesson. I find that I get more honest answers when they tell me to my face, versus them writing it down on a sheet.

The only time it really went well was when, for about a year, I let them cover every checked day with a little sticker. They loved that, and some would practice to get up to seven little stickers each week. But I'm not interested in buying that many stickers all the time so I quit doing that.

#14397 - 02/21/03 09:15 PM Re: Practice Sheet
Jason Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/14/00
Posts: 2019
Loc: Iowa City, IA
The sheet I use looks like this - credit goes to Joanne Smith; we used this in the prep program where I did my graduate work.

The teacher writes down everything the student is to do that week in the boxes on the left. On the right, the student puts a checkmark for each day they practiced that particular piece or exercise. At the bottom, they record how many minutes each day they practiced. This way you know what they worked on and when.

If you have a laptop, you could simply use this as a template and fill it out during the lesson and print the student a copy at the end. This way you'll have a saved copy for yourself which can be helpful in planning the next lesson. Or, the low-tech way we did it was to simply use carbon paper and keep the carbon copy.

For younger students, you could always put clip art and dress it up a bit, too...

[ 02-21-2003: Message edited by: Jason ]
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

#14398 - 02/22/03 02:24 AM Re: Practice Sheet
Piano lady Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 361
Oy! The gimmicks we come up with. I never had a teacher who did all this stuff. You were given an assignment and did it. Of course parents were involved a bit then, but I remember riding my bike to my teacher's house for a lesson, and taking a taxi during the winter.

I think there's way too much spoonfeeding these days. Of course we had two or three television stations that had soap operas on until 5 p.m. Now we've got cable with 200 channels. TV is the downfall of civilization.

I also don't know of a single family that doesn't have a TV in every room (except for mine).

#14399 - 02/22/03 07:25 AM Re: Practice Sheet
Jason Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/14/00
Posts: 2019
Loc: Iowa City, IA
If it makes you feel any better, I only have 1 television, and it's only been on for a grand total of 90 minutes in the last 2 weeks. \:\)
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

#14400 - 02/22/03 08:47 AM Re: Practice Sheet
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
Marcia, thanks for clarification (not a disgreement!). My son's chart was more like: do CM pentscale 10 times, do this 5 times, do that 3 times, for a total of about 10 items each day. So it wasn't just a checkmark for the assignment, but rather a set of items to be done so many times. He would sometimes have it done 5 times, but not 10 - so the next day he would add the 5 and think that he had to do it 15. It was a hopeless situation (primer student, 6 yrs.) If he came to the lesson with the grid completed he would receive $1, but since his was never completed filled he would feel failure. Maybe this is something to take into consideration when creating assignment charts.

BTW, my husband and I were quite proudly TV-free for over 5 years. It was wonderful (except I never knew what people were talking about). Somehow the TV snuck back into the front room (with baby #3), but I am aiming to GET IT OUT!

#14401 - 02/22/03 09:52 AM Re: Practice Sheet
alidoremi Offline
Star Member

Registered: 03/11/02
Posts: 2120
Loc: California
by PianoLady:
I also don't know of a single family that doesn't have a TV in every room (except for mine).

Dittos here! My kids (a teen and preteen) will also suffer the horrible fate of NOT having their own TV in their room. We have only one TV in our house, that's it.

Lisa made the point about parent involvement and I think that's a key. In my group classes the parents are required to attend with their child, and so they know exactly what's expected as far as practicing at home. They know how the song is supposed to sound, they know if their child has been practicing correctly or not, and they can help their child when he/she gets stuck on something. With my younger students (4-6 year olds), it's unrealistic to expect them to practice on their own on a daily basis, and so if the parent isn't taking the initiative to sit and practice, then chances are it doesn't get done.

In my private lessons, again, if the parents just drop them off for lessons, they're more likely not to know what's expected of their child than if they actually sit in on the lesson. That's why I prefer for parents to be at the lesson. It just makes for a more committed and successful student, IMO.

#14402 - 02/22/03 11:47 AM Re: Practice Sheet
tomuch2do Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 04/27/01
Posts: 97
Loc: WI
I remember being a kid and having my mom set the timer on the stove for 45 minutes. I'd shuffle through my books, look our the window, play a song, look through my books, look out the window, play a song, etc. Just to waste the 45 minutes.

When I decided to become a teacher (3 years now) I decided that the pressure of trying to fit in 30-60 minutes of practice so many days a week was just to hard on families (it shouldn't be, but it seems it is). So I require me students to practice songs a number of times.

Each student receives a spreadsheet with their assignment on it and checks off what they do on a certain day. And they are not required to practice everything everyday, so if they have 10 minutes they can sit down and play a technic excersise 3 times and do their notespeller, etc. They then check off that box for that day.

I don't get rid of students for lack of practice, I get rid of students for bad attitude, parents for not paying, or not following studio policies.

While my kids may not be getting through their levels as fast as others, they are all enjoying learning to play, they are learning to read notes and the parents are pleased.

It's working for me.

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