Practice has 2 important purposes:
IMPROVING is necessary, and happens if you are practicing daily. When we improve, we ENJOY. Enjoyment also occurs when we feel good about what we’ve done, when we gain confidence in our abilities, and are proud about how we sound.
So, how do we improve while enjoying? Good question. First this…
I have created a practice sheet to help my students with this (Though now that I think about it I should re-name it something ridiculously fun like “Improvement Inducer.” Or not — see, this is why I keep my creativity in processes and games, and not in naming things.)
weekly practice chart – full page
As you can see, things are broken down into key areas (listening, review, tone, reading/tech/theory, current pieces, goals) to help students focus on what they should spend their time on. It is vital for us to agree on the goal for the week, otherwise if you come to your next lesson having rocked something else but I asked for a flawless D scale to be executed, then insert crushed dreams here.
I know teachers have many tools they use to help students, and I’m always open to ideas! Maybe I should put staff paper on the back and create some composition/writing assignments…
100 days…seems overwhelming. 100 consecutive days seems impossible. But when you think about it, you brush your teeth everyday, consume your daily coffee/tea/chocolate, watch your obligatory shows, and flip through your 20 minutes of social media. And only some of those things are good for you.
We view practice as a chore, something we are obligated to do because it is good for us, just like brushing our teeth. If you choose not to brush your teeth you will end up with cavities or worse, so for most humans that is enough fear to do your daily deed; if you only brushed once a week, the cavities would still find you. The same idea applies to cello practice: only practicing once in a while only gets you a skill once in a while.
It is harder to see the improvement of playing because it is such a gradual thing. But if you practice even just 15 minutes a day, instead of starting on square 1 of 100 each day you pick up at least 2 squares. So on day 2 you may not have retained all the information you did the day before, you will at least start on square 3, and the next day 5…
For my students that practice 100 consecutive days they receive a medal at our next recital! But really the true prize is enjoying playing and being proud to come to lessons each week. Isn’t giving your student that feeling of accomplishment and confidence worth the occasional “ok, it’s time to practice!.”
Here are a few charts to help motivate your student: