With so much of our children’s education taking place in virtual spaces these days, it can be extra difficult to stay calm and focused during practice sessions. Here are some fun mid-practice ideas to help keep practice fun and productive.
Take a brain break! Sometimes we just need a few moments to reset our minds and bodies. A 60 second dance party, jumping jacks race, i.e. “how many can we do in 30 seconds?”, or wiggle break can help an energetic child blow off steam, while a stressed child might enjoy a cuddle break or a breathing exercise. Some fun breathing exercises are box breathing: in for 2, hold for 2, out for 2, hold for 2, repeated 5 times; or pretending to blow out a candle for as long as possible.
Focus on a beautiful, ringing tone! Taking a break from working on a difficult new technique to play some long, ringing open strings and listening to the reverberation can help bring your child’s brain back to the task at hand - creating beautiful music. You can also let them (appropriately) play out their frustrations by either playing their own piece or playing an angry Perpetual Motion, a sad Waltz, or anything else that suits their mood.
The last and most important tip has to do with communication. During practice, there are corrections that must be made, but there are ways to do so that will help your child stay calm and focused. The best time to state the goal is before your child starts playing, so they know what they’re aiming for. You can use the notes from the lesson to help with this, i.e. “Your teacher wants you to play this small section with careful low 2s”. Collaborative language like “let’s play that part more staccato, with a choppy sound”, positive phrasing such as “this time please use low 2s” rather than “don’t use high 2s, play it again with the right ones”, and focusing on one correction at a time are the most productive ways to communicate with your child during practice.
Hopefully these tips give you some fun ideas on how to find calm in this ever-changing world. Whenever you’re facing difficulty, you, your child, and your teacher can work together to come up with other strategies as well. Happy practicing!