Archive for November, 2012

Nov 7th 2012 Recital Deadlines

The studio Halloween/Fall/Christmas recital is on Nov. 17 this year.  Other than the anomaly of last week, the students are doing a good job of preparing well in advance.  I try to impress upon them that having a whole week of leeway in memorization or learning a piece for a performance is a good idea.  What if you get sick?  What if there is a big school project?  What if you go out of town?  There are so many scenarios that if a student plans on learning music until the last minute can create the recipe for a poor performance.  While some of the issues could be prevented sometimes things just come up. 

To a young student a month is like forever.  If you tell them they have a month you can guarantee procrastination.  However, if I am very specific about what we need to accomplish each week to meet the goal then they understand that a month really isn’t so long. 

Good luck to all those students and teachers out there preparing for a winter concert.  Plan ahead and keep practicing.

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Nov 5th 2012 Holiday Mayhem

I’ve been bragging on my students significantly the past few weeks.  It pretty much came back to haunt me last week.  Holiday weeks are always hard for most of my students.  They get so hyped up about whatever exciting is going on that they just can’t/don’t focus like they need to.  I’m pretty sure they all put in their practice time, but the lack of focus during that time and during their lessons was obvious.  With the recital so close this was a bad time to lose a week.  It’s rare that I end up saying that lesson was bad to the student or parent but it ended up repeated endlessly last week.

So as we head into the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas how do other teachers keep the disruptions to a minimum?  Festival season is just around the corner and we don’t want to lose too much preparation time. 

I’ve found the most effective check point is to have the parents listen to the students practice more often during times of distraction.  Even if you don’t read music or play an instrument you can hear if progress is being made or if it sounds sloppy or even if there are wrong notes.  You don’t need to listen to the entire practice session but a quick drop in will keep them honest.  If you aren’t home when a student practices have them record their final run through of each piece at the end of their daily practice and then compare it to the previous day.  Does it sound better? 

Everyone has an unfocused lesson once in a while, but if that lesson is preceded by a week of unfocused practice then it goes from unfocused to ill-prepared.  Let’s try to keep ourselves in check during the upcoming mayhem of the holiday season and to continue to progress in our musical education.

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Nov 2nd 2012 October Competition and Prizes

This month in the studio we have been having a competition of sorts.  With the recital coming up, the students needed a little added incentive to work extra hard.  So I purchased a few small prizes and then declared that the grand prize would be a hand knit scarf of the winner’s choosing.  Pretty much saying Harry Potter scarf did the trick.    Here were the ways to earn points:

1.  Meet Your Practice Goal- 5 points

2.  Exceed your practice goal by 30 minute increments – 15 points per 30 min. interval

3.  Perfect Technique- 5 points

4.  Pass Ear-Training Test- 20 points

5.  Complete a Piece- 5 points per page

6.  Theory Completed- 5 points

7.  Theory Completed with no mistakes- 5 points per page

8.  Memorization- 2 points per measure

9.  Memorize an entire piece in 1 week- 20 points

10.  Memorize a recital piece by Nov. 1- 50 points

The students did really well in earning their points and trying to beat each other.  I can’t wait to tell them how they did at their lesson next week. 

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