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Practicing Tips for Parents and Students

The most important thing about practice is to do it regularly and make it a part of your daily routine! The lessons, held once weekly at school, are not enough to make progress and contribute to a band that sounds good. Learning a musical instrument means learning a new "language" and developing the mental and physical skills (dexterity, endurance, muscle memory) to translate that new language into sound. You have to practice at home. But don't panic about having to spend huge amounts of time practicing; most beginners can flourish with just 10-15 minute sessions several times a week.

For Parents:

  •  Above all, be involved and aware. You don't have to play the instrument your child is learning or even know much about music to be involved and helpful.
  • In order to practice, kids need to have their instruments available. If the instrument is usually in the music room at school while your child is at home, your child is not going to make much progress on the instrument. Please help your child make sure his or her instrument is at home as much as possible.
  • Know what your child is supposed to be practicing daily.
  • Have an idea of what the material is supposed to sound like. You can usually find someone else playing the material somewhere on the internet listen to the CD in your book.
  • Help your child incorporate practice into his or her daily routine.
  • Gently remind your child to practice. Even students who love playing their instruments often don't have the emotional intelligence at this age to discipline themselves adequately.
  • Think about using appropriate incentives to motivate.
  • Keep an ear open; ask yourself if your child is simply "going through the motions" rather than seriously trying to progress and to address problem spots in the material.
  • Remind your child that they are part of a team; the other band members are counting on them to sound as good as they can.

For students:

  • Practicing for shorter periods daily or several times a week is always better than "cramming."
  • Set a regular time to practice or otherwise make practice part of your routine.
  • Find a comfy, quiet place to practice without distractions like TV.
  • Set goals for each practice session.
  • Know what the exercise or passage should sound like.
  • Break the music down into smaller sections if dealing with a difficult piece, and tackle it one section at a time.
  • Focus on the more challenging parts of what you are working on.
  • Be engaged with your practice session mentally while playing; don't just "go through the motions."
  • Don't stop once you get a passage or exercise right; repeat it several times to get it ingrained.
  • Use a metronome to help you get rhythm and tempo right. (I like the Korg models, and the “Apps” such as “Tempo” are fantastic)
  • Record yourself on occasion to check your playing.
  • Remember that a band is a team; everyone needs to do their best in order for the band to sound good.
  • Most of all, Play for the Fun of it!!!