SGMS Practice Tips
Practicing at home is an integral part of your musical training and essential to making progress in between your weekly lessons. Your teacher will discuss their personal recommendations for practice with you and offer help & suggestions whenever you need it. Practicing can be enjoyable, but like most things in life, it won’t be fun all the time, so here are some tips that can help you practice more efficiently and progress more quickly in your studies. Your goal should be to practice no less than 120 minutes a week, that sounds like a lot...but if you practice 4 days a week for 30 minutes you have practiced for 120 minutes; if you practice 25 minutes for five days a week you have accomplished your goals!
When to Practice:
Set a Regular Practice Time
Practicing becomes easier when it’s part of your routine, just like brushing your teeth or exercising. Having a habit of practicing at a set time every day makes it easier on those days when you don’t feel like practicing.
Practice Right after Your Lesson
Most of what you learn with your teacher can be lost if you don’t practice within 24 hours after your lesson. To get the most out of your lessons, try practicing when you get home from your lesson, even if just for 5 minutes, to help process any new information and instructions. And, for older students, take notes during your lessons...write down things about where your having a hard time in a song so that you don't forget to practice that section, write down what you feel you do best and where you need to work.
Be an Early Bird
Everyone is different, but many people find that they practice best in the morning or early in the afternoon while their minds are still fresh. Some people prefer practicing in small chunks of time a couple times a day (ex: 15 minutes in the morning & 15 minutes in the afternoon). Experiment and find what works best for you and your schedule.
When Life is Hectic
We all have days or weeks when we are busier than normal. If you don’t have enough time to fit in your regular practice session, try squeezing in even just 5 minutes. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in a small amount of time, especially if you try some of our “how to” tips below. If practicing falls through the cracks, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just dive back in and start fresh when you can!
If You Get Frustrated
Walk away and clear your mind by doing something else for a few minutes; drink a glass of water, have a snack or even take a walk. Or try singing/playing a piece of music that you love and know well, which can boost your mood and rekindle your enjoyment. If nothing helps, call it a day and resume tomorrow when your mind is fresh.
How to Practice:
A Practice Chart has been created for you!
In your Music Staff account you can go to your practice log and add your practice time as well as send any questions you may have directly to your teacher. Voice students are supplied with a Music Journal book to keep lessons notes, practice times and general performance notes. Creating a practice chart will help you accomplish your practice goals more effectively. Young students can help create their own charts with crayons or stickers and we will be happy to supply those charts. Even older students can benefit from planning out which days they’ll practice particular exercises or different sections of a song, rather than winging it and practicing aimlessly. A chart can also help you see how much you’ve accomplished over weeks and months of practice! Ultimately your teachers would prefer that you log in your practice times on the website so that they can see how much you are practicing and use those practice times for contests and rewards.
Divide & Conquer
Playing or singing an entire piece over and over is not the best way to practice. Divide a song into small chunks of a few measures or one line, and practice each chunk slowly until it feels easy. Then slowly connect the chunks and practice transitioning from one section to another, before adding on the next chunk.
Start at the End
Very often we know the beginning of a piece very well and the end not so well, because it is so tempting to always practice from the beginning of the song. Try learning the end of the piece first, and then adding on section by section till you get to the top and can play or sing the whole song through. Psychologically speaking, this can be a great tool to help when you feel overwhelmed by learning the whole piece or feel stuck somewhere along the way.
Focus on One Thing at a Time
When learning a new piece, you don’t need to perfect everything all at once. If you’re still learning to read music, you may find it helpful to point to each note and say the name out loud before singing/playing. You can also try clapping and counting the rhythm a few times before playing. Once you’ve mastered the notes and rhythm, focus on the expression and dynamics (the louds & softs) of the piece to make the music come alive.
Slow Learning is Quick Learning
When in doubt, slow it down! Most of us practice too fast to allow our muscles and brains to process the new material, and we make mistakes that quickly become engrained in our muscle memory. Go as slowly as necessary to master each passage perfectly, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you will learn without having to undo mistakes!
Parents Can Help
Even if you don’t have a musical background, you can still help your child practice and ensure all assignments are completed. Review your child’s assignment notebook or online notes, ask the teacher for specific things you can help with, or sit in on part of the lesson if you need clarification. Help your child build practicing into their daily routine and implement the strategies outlined above. Discuss how learning music is a journey with many ups and downs along the way. As your child gets older, parental involvement will lessen, but it is still important to take an active role in ensuring they practice regularly and to help them to communicate any personal goals, needs or struggles with their teacher.
Stick With It
While the overall experience is a positive one, it is not unusual to get frustrated and want to stop lessons prematurely. Many adults who took lessons as a child say their greatest regret has been not continuing with lessons or playing music.
Continuing with lessons, even through all the inevitable ups and downs, has incredible benefits towards building future success, confidence, and a lifelong enjoyment of music. And remember our studio policy requires a 30 day notice if you do choose to stop lessons. A lot of times during that last month after a student has decided to stop they find out they really did not want to quit.
We Can Help
Please don’t hesitate to contactl us if you or your child is struggling with home practice or anything at all concerning their lessons or teacher. Part of our job as your child's music teacher is to serve as a liaison between you and your child. Contact us as soon as you have any questions or concerns, and we will help! You are welcome to contact us using the form below.