Teaching Students How to Practice

I’ve been holding a practice workshop with my students every few years for awhile now. Even if the same student took it just a few years prior, their experience with it totally changes because they are older and have advanced in their studies. This past year I made my practice workshop lesson plans available to teachers. Before I made it available I wanted to do a big update to it. This summer was my first summer that I used the update and I couldn’t be happier with how everything went.

In my lesson plans I break everything down for a 4-hour workshop (throwing in some “extra” ideas as well), but found with my update that I could have easily added on another couple hours simply by spending more time with them at the piano especially if you implement the practice games and tools resource (available separately). The more students you have in a session, the more time you will want.

Students need to be taught how to practice.

Most students simply don’t know HOW to practice. Practicing in their mind, is going home and playing a piece over and over again. We need to teach our students the correct way to practice so they make the best use of their time at home.

Save time and energy

When you hold a workshop with a group of students, you are saving a lot of time having to teach the same practice concepts over and over again times however many students you may have.

Return investment

The return investment alone is reason enough to do this with students. By taking the time whether it is during a lesson or a workshop, if students implement what you are teaching they will become better practicers which in turn will make them better performers. And chances are high they will stay in lessons longer because the frustration level will go down, which is another benefit.

What do students learn in the practice workshop?

We begin learning about common practice flaws and how we can fix those flaws and turn them into solutions. Students learn different practice tips and ideas that will help them practice more efficiently at home. We go through the different sections in the practice workbook which is a HUGE tool for them to make better use of their practice time.

There is plenty of time for crafts, practice games, collaboration and putting what we learn to action.

 

Everyone went home with a practice pouch to help them stay focused and engaged during their practice time at home. We used a lot of games from the Practice Games and Tools resource (resource not included in the workshop).

Just a little tip on practice pouch kits… When students are using their piano practice pouch, they do not need to use the games for every song they practice. The games are good for stubborn areas that need improvement, to help focus during practice and to self-assess for readiness. Use as needed. I’ve been putting these together for students for almost 20 years now. Over the years it has evolved a little but the purpose remains the same. To focus, engage, practice smart and have fun!

Practice Pouch Kit from 2011
Practice Pouch Kit 2017

And of course, we answer the question, does practice REALLY make perfect? Of which, they all know the answer.

What if I don’t do summer workshops or camps?

Something that I am seriously considering doing in the future is spreading this workshop out over the course of a year. So everytime I hold a group lesson, we touch on something from the workshop. Matter of fact, I’m thinking I may spend 5-10 min of each group lesson this year highlighting some kind of practice tip or tool for a good followup to our workshop.

If you don’t do group lessons either, you can still benefit greatly from this workshop from either the practice workbook on it’s own (the reproducible workbook included in the workshop is also available separately) or dedicating some lesson time each week or even just once a month using the lesson plans. Either way, students would benefit greatly.

 

Interested in the practice workshop? Just click the picture below to find out more about it.

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