Written by & under performance.

By Julia Kossuth

As we are approaching our spring recital in the end of May, as well the middle and end of the school year, I like to implement new practice strategies and reminders. With each student I often take a slightly different approach, so there are always suggestions and changes to be made to refresh their practicing habits. One comprehensive source from which I’ve gleaned many of these tips is from Bullet Proof Musician’s article, “How Many Hours A Day Should You Practice?” by Dr. Noa Kageyama http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/how-many-hours-a-day-should-you-practice/ .

One of the biggest reminders I find my self making is to avoid mindless practice. Goodness, I still have to work at that all the time! But I have a few students in particular who come in with practice almost every day for a substantial amount of time that still cannot play their assignments in a manner reflecting that much practice. Going over the details of how to practice efficiently and effectively I’ve found helps them make more progress.

NFMC Piano FestivalI very much enjoy setting goals with my students, engaging them in the decision and mental process of analyzing their music, no matter how large or small the target. For some students, the goal might be get X movement with the metronome at X tempo for next week. For another diligent student, it may be just tackling one song in their lesson book, but breaking down every measure in a meaningful way so they can understand what’s on the page. Yet another recent practice talk involved helping a student set an alarm and motivational goals to encourage more practice in her week.

Allowing myself to vary my approach not only from what I would do in their shoes, but also based on how I see them processing their music that day is a constant and rewarding challenge to tackle each week. I love the success and consequential confidence it gives my kids!

What are some practice strategies that you’ve found helpful with you students?