Tips for Home Practice

05 Nov

I can hear a mistake; why doesn’t my child fix it?

Yesterday, a parent asked me “Should I just allow my daughter to play through her review pieces with all the mistakes?”  This is a question that frequently comes up in our regular parent session at TESS.

The approach you take to help them become aware of their mistakes has to be the right one. They probably know they played a wrong note, so telling them they played a wrong note is not helpful. Ask them if they noticed any wrong notes and give them time to think about their response. The student really enjoys this self-evaluation, and it will help you understand them better. In this way, neither you nor they are being critical, just listening and adjusting the work that is being done.

Yesterday I was working with another student, and we chose ONE focus for each review piece. Every time I asked the student what to focus on, the child said left hand fingers, and she was doing a good job listening to herself. We reviewed one song twice and by the second time, all her fingers were in the right spot. Then I asked if she could choose another thing to focus on. She said sure! She chose to focus on her bow spot. She played through the same piece and focused on the bow spot, but her fingers weren’t always on the right spot. So I asked her, “How did you do?” She answered, “I think my fingers still need more work.” She knows she needs more practice before she develops a high ability for putting her fingers on the correct spot.

This is one reason the Suzuki Method works. This student clearly knew she was making a mistake, because she can hear the music from within. If you hear that your child is making a mistake, instead of interrupting them and frustrating them with interruptions, allow the CD to tell them! Make sure that your child has an internal knowledge of the music within, by listening to the recordings daily. It’s a great idea to ask the children to sing a piece before they play it, especially if they are struggling with the notes.

If you and your child don’t agree on whether something was achieved, table it for the teacher. Mention the disagreement with the teacher before the lesson day. The teacher can help identify where the difference of opinion is coming from and provide more detailed guidance for the next week. This will help you keep your practices enjoyable and productive in the meantime!

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