We’ve had lots of parents come to us and ask how to get their children to practice when they’re at home, so we asked the teachers what they thought and they gave us the ideas below.
- Start with a basic stretch.
- Warm up with mountain climbing exercise or a scale if you’ve done those in your lessons – one time as slowly as possible without wobbling and then a second time as quickly as possible. Repeat each twice.
- Continue to work through study book Abracadabra Violin…
- Aim to practice at least three times a week for around ten minutes each time
- Refer to your practice notebooks for specific practise tips from Mike and if you don’t yet have one, bring a notebook to your next lesson
- Regular shorter practice sessions are better than cramming everything into one day! Your fingers need to play the keys often to keep them agile, and you’ll find it much easier to memorise pieces by doing little but often.
- Always start with a short warm up. This could be scales, exercises, or playing a piece you’re already really comfortable with. It will help warm up your fingers and give you focus for the rest of your practice.
- Break up pieces into small sections, but don’t just stick to the parts you’re best at! Make sure you spend plenty of time on the sections you’re not comfortable with, then slowly put it all together until you have the entire piece.
- It’s important to be relaxed when playing any instrument. Make sure you have a comfortable sitting position, and that your wrists are loose and flexible. The more relaxed you can be, the longer you can play for!
- Have fun! Remember, music is as much about what you want to play as anything else. Feel free to experiment, write your own songs, and try to figure out your favourite songs.
- TAKE IT SLOW! There is no rush to get something, it takes as long as it takes. If you rush and try and play something to fast to early then you’ll most likely learn it wrong. take it nice and slow until it feels comfortable, then start speeding it up slowly.
- ALWAYS REMEMBER THE STUFF YOU COULDN’T DO AND NOW CAN. It can be so easy to become frustrated when something is difficult, but a good tip is to always remember that the stuff you now find easy was difficult as one point! The fact you are struggling with something shows you are pushing yourself. Stay patient and remember how at one point, the easy stuff was difficult!
- WRITE DOWN PROGRESS. If you are practicing a specific drum beat that is tricky, after each practice write how hard you found it on a scale of 1-10. Nothing keeps your motivation more than seeing a drum beat getting easier infant of your eyes. Even if its only a number less each time you practice.
- GET YOUR PARENTS TO QUIZ YOU. Give you parents three names of drum beats and see if you can play them when you are asked. To make this harder, let you parents decide whether you play them fast or slow, and then for a number of bars! Make a game out of it!
- QUALITY NOT QUANTITY – aim for a 20-minute practice session a few times a week and spend 5 mins: recapping previous exercises, 10 mins: practice new material, 5 minutes just playing what feels comfortable and what is fun!
- Ensure you can confidently read chord diagrams. Sit down with The Complete Guitar Player and test yourself by attempting to work out a chord that you haven’t yet learnt from the diagram. If you struggle with this, this means we need to go over it in class a few more times. Once you can do this, learning new chords becomes easy and leads us onto the next phase, which is:
- Memorising the chords. Being able to learn chords from the diagrams is great, but it will only get you so far! There’s no use in trying to learn whole songs if you constantly have to look back at chord diagrams. Each time you learn a chord: strum it, look at it paying particular attention to what it looks like and its shape, and say the name of the chord aloud to yourself. Repeat this three times, then put your hand on your leg and count to ten. Try to remember the chord shape, and repeat the process.
- Changing chords. Practice one chord change repeatedly (eg D to E). Pay particular attention to what each finger does, and whether all fingers need to move or be lifted from the string. With some chord changes, not all fingers need to move and just realising this can make changing chords much easier. If you’re confused by this, let Alun know in lessons and he can go over it again slowly.
- Have at least 2 x 15 minute practice sessions a week. If you’re really keen, 15 minutes a day and you’ll make serious progress!
- If you can, LISTEN to the songs we’re learning (if you have internet access, try Spotify or YouTube). That way you’ll get a better sense of how it’s meant to sound, and you can even play along.