Making corrections during home practice is hugely important, but sometimes a very complex task! It’s not very fun to be corrected, but it’s such an important part of improving ability that it’s necessary. Here are some ideas of how to help avoid frustration while working on improving.
Often, when we have to stop a child to correct a fingering or bowing during a play through, the child will feel jolted and interrupted. There are a few games to gently help your child stop playing. You can softly tap their “pause button” (for instance, the top of their heads) with your hand or a wand, or you can play freeze tag to stop them. If you know a tricky part is coming up, pause them beforehand and set them up for success by reminding them of the specific technique they need to utilize. Be sure to use neutral, informative phrasing like “this next part is the hooked bow passage, ready?” rather than negative phrasing, such as “remember, this is the hard part” or giving orders like “you have to remember to play the right notes in this next part”. Be sure also to pause them at random to preserve the “gamelike” feeling of the exercise.
The best way to avoid your child becoming frustrated or plowing through a tricky section with incorrect notes is to prepare that spot before playing through the whole piece! You can use a board game and give your child a turn for every correct repetition, or you can have them perform the spot in every room of the house, anything to keep the mood light while working hard on playing correctly. Talk through what they need to do to play the spot correctly beforehand, and do it at least 5 times to make sure they really internalize it. Then, play through the phrase that contains the practice spot a few times to make sure they can play it in context.
My last tip is to aim to see your child’s frustrations/emotional outbursts as a problem to be solved together, since it’s so easy to become frustrated yourself when you’re working so hard to help them. I like to think of myself as a detective, uncovering clues to deduce the source of their reactions, and making a plan for circumventing the issue while still helping the child improve. This is a stressful time of year for everyone, even in normal circumstances, so be sure to give yourself and your child lots of understanding and love!
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