Practicing Tips

For Students and Parents!

Here are a few ideas I've come up with to help you create a positive environment in the home for music study.

1. Create an area free of distractions for your student to practice -- Find a place where your student won't be heckled by siblings or tempted by nearby noises (I speak from first-hand experience). Also be sure the instrument is accessible. I've noticed that if my own children's instruments are under a pile of magazines or beneath the couch, I probably won't be serenaded while preparing dinner.

2. Be involved in your student's practicing and understand their routine -- All students are given warm-up exercises which include open string practice, scales and etudes. There is always the temptation to play through this part of the routine quickly. Instead, these should be done slowly and methodically at first and then gradually brought up to a faster tempo. They also have performance pieces. In each lesson I give specific instructions on how they should work on each piece that week. Sometimes they will play through the entire piece, but more often than not, they will be focusing on small sections at a variety of speeds and sometimes with rhythmic and bowing variations. Since I only meet with your student once a week, the parent's role is irreplaceable in assuring that this routine is followed.

3. No pain, ALL gain -- Playing the violin should never hurt. Maintaining correct posture is absolutely necessary at all times to avoid injury. If ever your student experiences pain or discomfort, they should STOP playing for a few minutes. When they start up again, they should breathe deeply and re-posture themselves with the weight of their hips squarely over their feet. They should feel their muscles relax first from their back, through their neck and shoulders and then down their arms and into their hands and fingers. All knuckles and joints should move freely and be supple and flexible. The fingers of the left hand should never press down on the string. It is the force of gravity pulling down on the arm which causes the string to depress. If any pain-related problem persists, please be sure to let me know so we can address it in our next lesson.

4. Be consistent and focused -- Students should go through their practice routine at least once daily but it is best to break it up into smaller segments to avoid stiffness, fatigue and even injury. On some days students will successfully complete their routine after 20-30 minutes while on other days an hour or two will be required. Keep the instrument accessible, even outside of the case in a safe place so that your child will be more apt to pick it up and practice.

5. Keep a practice log -- I will set your student up with a practice schedule that they can easily follow and check off each day. In some instances, I may ask that you sign off each day your student practices.

6. Play for friends and family -- Your student is working hard and deserves all the praise and support possible. When visiting family and friends, ask if your child can bring their instrument along and perform for them. You may like to set up family nights at home where everyone including the parents performs something -- anything from reciting a poem to performing a magic trick. This would be a perfect time for your budding musician to get accustomed to performing for an audience.