It is vital to have a practice plan. In the day (1965) my practice plan was strict. Half-hour a day, six days a week, signed by your parents, miss one day and “you’re out kid … I don’t have time for you if you don’t practice.”
I was lucky. My teacher was strict but good. He gave me a practice plan. It was simple. Five minuets of scales, ten minuets of technique, ten minutes of etude or current piece, then ending with five minutes of my choice.
As a teacher today (2008) I realize that to be that strict would turn a lot of kids (and parents) off. So I don’t use the “… or you’re out” routine. True, fear is a powerful motivator, but I would much rather rely on positive reinforcement. When we consider how busy kids can be these days, sports (don’t get me started), computer time, etc., my suggested practice plan is simple:
In a perfect world, one half-hour a day as listed above (minus the threat).
In a realistic world I shoot for fifteen minutes four days a week. Two minutes scales, two minutes technique, six minutes etude or piece, ending with five minutes students’ choice. If you can get the parent involved with a timer that would go a long way in helping the younger ones to practice. Mom or dad get to be the audience, and the child will more then likely enjoy the attention.
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