Purposeful Practice

 

One of my favorite things to talk about and create things for is practice. I’ve created lots of different practice tools for my students over the years after all it is something they must do if they want to get better, right?

I think one reason I find the subject so fascinating is that despite all our efforts as teachers, there is still those students that just don’t do it. Why do you think that is? Well we can spend quite a bit of time speculating and as we know the reasons will vary depending on the student. But one thing I have learned over the years is it is not only our job to teach our students music, but it’s just as important to teach them HOW to practice. My favorite camps over the years have been practice camps and one I like to re-visit every few years if I can.

This coming year I really want my students to focus on purposeful practice at home. So when I created my new incentive program, “You’re A Star!” my goal for my students were two-fold…

1) For students to be more focused and productive during their practice time. (purposeful practice)

2) To provide a creative outlet.

Though practicing will still be marked in their assignment sheet (I have a separate ongoing program that will require this), I’m not going to worry about how many days they practiced in regards to the “You’re a Star!” program. I really want students to concentrate on quality practice over quantity. While quantity certainly has it’s purpose like creating good daily habits, sometimes students also get in the habit of practicing lazily.

Of course we know that playing a piece over and and over again really isn’t practicing. It’s playing. But do our students truly know this?

Barry Green, author of the Inner Game of Music says, “One reason students need to play passages of their music over and over again is because they don’t pay attention to this crucial sensory information. Either they observe themselves playing to see if they do it right or their minds are off somewhere else.” (This is a great book by the way. If you haven’t read it, please consider purchasing through my affiliate link here)

I’m sure you have experienced this yourself. By giving our students specific steps to help guide them to a more mindful and purposeful practice they will be able to stay more focused and accomplish much more in even a shorter amount of time.

Think of this for a moment. How many times have you reached the end of the day and asked yourself, what on earth did I accomplish today? We live in a very distracting world. There are so many things calling for our attention, so you can bet this plays a big role with students practice sessions at home.

In my new program, STAR is an acronym that will give students specific guidelines to practice by. Each acronym is an actionable step for them to take that will require a little more effort than some might have taken previously. If these steps are taken seriously (and there will be accountability in order to pass a STAR off), then I predict students will have more focused and purposeful practice sessions and will soar.

In addition, because I want to provide a creative outlet, I also have my students complete creative challenges throughout the program as they progress. These challenges encourage students to get “out of the box” and play creatively.

The last thing I wanted to focus on this year which goes hand in hand to both goals, is to have students reflect in different aspects of their music studies. These reflections, done during lab time (or at home if you don’t do lab) range from motivational, creativity, performance and practice.

If the “You’re A Star!” program is something that interests you, please take a moment to watch this “Behind the Scenes” look at what is included in the program.

Click the picture below for more information on “You’re A Star!”

You're A Star

 

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