Spring Practice Motivation
“Anything you think of doing, however insignificant, should be done immediately.”
This is one of my favorite quotes by Dr. Suzuki. It’s especially fitting regarding practice time as the school year winds down, and students struggle with spring fever, or increased homework loads as finals loom. However, like most things, this idea of “think it, do it” is much more easily said than done! If you find your family struggling with practice time, here are some ideas.
Remember that even five minutes of practice is infinitely better than nothing! Take advantage of any small chunks of time in your day to fit in mini-practices. This time of year is great for working on practicing towards small, attainable goals. Your child probably can’t polish an entire piece in the course of five minutes, but I bet they could adjust a fingering or refine a rhythm!
If you’re not sure how to prioritize your child’s assignments, check with your teacher. Many of my students need a hierarchy of their practice spots and review assignments. Usually, I choose to have them focus on practice spots in their polish piece first, then review, and lastly their new piece. Every teacher will have a different idea of what’s most important!
For older children, practice makes a great study spacer. Rather than jumping straight from one subject to the next, have your child take a fivetoten minute break between each subject. It’s better for information retention as well as a great way to fit practice time into a busy schedule. At this age, students may be able to prioritize their practice a little more independently. Help them stay focused on small goals rather than trying to cram as much playing into that time as possible.
Review pieces can be used as a way to wind down after a busy day, to help quiet the mind before bed. I know that in high school I often had trouble falling asleep, because my mind was still working hard to process everything I’d worked on during the day. Music has a powerful impact on the brain, and playing pieces you know well is very calming. Often older students (myself included) will use a practice mute while doing this to avoid waking parents and younger siblings.
Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself or your child! Do your best to practice each day, but remember that the overarching pattern is more important than a few off days. Suzuki also said “Without stopping, without haste, carefully taking a step at a time forward will surely get you there.”
- Shannon Jansma, published in the April 2016 issue of the Ann Arbor Suzuki Institute newsletter