Productive Practice

As simple as it may sound, practising an instrument productively is one of the most laborious and essential goals teachers should train their students for.

It is obvious that if the student doesn’t practice very little progress can be made. Overall students are not aware that practising plays an important role in improving their technique and skills.

The main point to understand about practising is that no matter whether you practise your instrument for long hours, working without a goal can actually be worse than not working at all. Focused studying for a short period of time would be more useful than wasting a long time without concentration at all. As teachers our role must be essential to instruct our students how to practise without wasting their time.

Nevertheless, the simple truth is that teachers cannot control their students practice outside of their lessons and that’s why this matter becomes so important to deal with. The student should practise based on outcomes instead of time, knowing they have a list of specific problems to fix. The key question for any student while practising should be: What exactly am I trying to achieve at the moment?’

Children should get precise instructions of how to practise an exercise or piece. They need easy targets that they can cover for that week, which the teacher should clearly write down in a notebook. Parents should also be aware what the task for their children is as they sometimes can notice if their child is struggling with something, or otherwise, he/she keeps playing ‘safe’ passages.

Adults are usually more aware of concepts, but they also need some guidance with practising, otherwise that sense of freedom leave them to become to easily satisfied.

Our role as teachers is extremely important to be able to keep our students enthusiasm and attitude. We must be aware that our pupils’ age and level will determine our way of focusing their practice as well as their different interests in diverse music styles.

Ensuring that your practice instructions are powerful springboards for the week ahead – directions that are precise, easy to absorb, fun to work with, and impossible to ignore”. 

The Practice Revolution by Philip Johnston
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