Re: Do you teach your students how to practice?

carl-swanson on #88318

Julienne- You’ve got some good ideas there, and I understand that it would be impractical to have every student you teach practice occasionally at your house. But if you can do it(have the student practice at your house) it’s very helpful and revealing. When my very talented student came here to practice, he played for three and a half hours with not break. I encouraged him several times to take a break but he didn’t want to. At the end he said,”This is the longest I’ve ever been able to practice with no interruptions. At home there is a lot of stuff to distract me.” I called his mother that night(both his parents are VERY supportive) and told her that if he says he’s going to practice from 7 ot 8PM, that there are to be absolutely no interruptions during that hour. If a friend of his calls, tell him to call back after 8.

But also, while he was practicing, I heard him do several things wrong. When he made a mistake, he’d play it again once and then go on. He didn’t make what I call ‘variations’, for example, playing arpeggios as block chords, or running sixteenth notes in uneven rhythm, etc. When he understood that he had to practice a difficult passage 15 or 20 times, he would back up way too far to start it, instead of starting one or two beats before the problem. The point I’m making is that it can be very very helpful to hear a student practicing alone while you listen from some other part of the house. Maybe you could try it on a student who is really having trouble and not the whole studio. Maybe you could talk to the parent and ask them to put the tape recorder on for a whole practice session. Then you could listen to it as you drove someplace or whatever and analyse it, and then discuss it with the student at the next lesson.