Before sharing the article, I want to draw your attention to two points that I find very important. Aunt Rhody encourages parents and students to try and understand the reason behind all the repetition. You may think, "Why do we do the same bow exercises every week? Why is my child playing Mississippi Hot Dog on the A and E strings over and over again?" Repetition takes us from the knowledge level of learning, which is when a new skill or idea is first introduced, and eventually gets us to the mastery level. Through repetition we build our ability and the new idea or skill becomes second nature. No one ever learned to ride a bike by doing it only one time! However, your practice must be done correctly. If I ask you to practice 100 bow holds, it is important that each bow hold has a curved pinky, bent thumb and relaxed knuckles. If you practice 100 bow holds with a straight thumb, your practice is now counterproductive and you would have been better off not practicing at all. So as you can see, it is very important that you understand the purpose of the repetition and how exactly it should be carried out at home. We don't want to start a race running the wrong direction by practicing incorrectly. If you don't understand what we're trying to accomplish through all the repetition, please ask!
The last point I would like to highlight is the importance of preparing your child to talk about how his/her practice went the previous week. I want to know if your child had difficulty with anything and, if so, maybe we can come up with a better way to present the idea or maybe I just need to be a little more clear about what I am wanting. Maybe your child had great success with something, if so, I want to celebrate with him! If you didn't get around to practicing a certain exercise, it's okay, I won't be mad, I just want to know so I can best tailor the lesson to your child's needs. Your child's communication with me about their practice allows them to take responsibility for their own learning and teaches them to reflect on their playing, which is important for their growth not only musically, but in all areas of life. I truly feel that if your child is able to reflect on their practice sessions, you will see much more growth then you will by just practicing to cross something off your checklist.
I would like to thank Aunt Rhody for allowing teachers the privilege of sharing these fantastic educational letters with the families of their own studios! I hope this letter will help you get the most out of your child's lesson!
Parents: How to Get the Most Out of Lessons
Private music lessons are time consuming and relatively expensive, as are instruments. Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of the experience:
▪ Pack ALL necessary items: music, notebooks, charts, etc. in a special bag. Put instrument IN the case.
▪ Leave early enough to arrive with a few moments to spare.
▪ Even if you are rushed for time to get to the lesson, or stuck in traffic, adjust your mental state so as to arrive with a calm demeanor. This helps kids focus on the lesson. We can’t change what happens to us, but we can change how we react to those things.
▪ Feed yourself and the children. Thirsty, hungry people are less able to concentrate and learn.
▪ Arrange for sitters for siblings who are likely to distract you during the lessons.
▪ Learn about and understand Suzuki’s Talent Education Philosophy.
▪ Discuss any practicing problems with the teacher out of earshot of the student.
▪ Be engaged in the lesson as if a member of an audience. What you see is what you are to do at home!
▪ Which means: Please do not clip coupons, text, check emails, read a book, daydream, talk with siblings, doze off….
▪ Take notes in a dedicated notebook, not on random slips of paper.
▪ Take detailed notes. Many parents take the briefest of notes, which are subsequently useless.
▪ Do NOT under any circumstances make negative, critical or impatient comments about or to your child, his practice habits, or her lack of getting a part right, EVEN if she did so at home.
▪ Sometimes there is a lot of repetition in a lesson. Explore why the repetition is occurring: what do you see or hear that changes, and what is the teacher after? Please don’t tune it out.
▪ Delight in your child.
▪ Review your notes as soon as is possible. The same day is ideal.
▪ Prepare a plan for home practice for the week. Do you need any new games, attitudes, ideas to add enthusiasm for you or your child to the practice sessions?
▪ Practicing immediately after getting home is the most productive time of the week, as the lesson’s teaching points are freshest in the minds of everyone. It can be a short practice, just hitting the highlights. Do no equate a lesson with practice time. They are not the same!
▪ Make notes during the week of things that you or your child don’t understand, or are having trouble executing, noting measure numbers if appropriate. Prepare your child to share these with the teacher at the next lesson.
▪ Learn how to facilitate and encourage regular practice. Teach and nurture at your child’s level as they can’t understand yours.
▪ Be patient and above all: Nurture with love.
Hugs and Kisses, Aunt Rhody
© 2012 Susan A. Sommerville
all rights reserved