Here are my five “Secrets of Home Practice” … I hope that they are useful to you:
SECRET No. 1: Kids will ALWAYS say they’ve done enough practice. The truth is that the job isn’t at all over after 1, 2 or even 3 repetitions of a musical task. As any experienced musician will tell you, it takes thousands (yes – thousands) of repetitions of even the most basic musical task before it starts to become a part of you.
SECRET No. 2: A beginner’s songs, chords and notes seldom sound perfect … More often than not, our first attempts at making a sound on the instrument are usually far from a soaring success. I like to think of the process as “shaping” … on each successive attempt, give some praise for even minor improvements (even now we are not at the elusive “finished product” stage) This job takes time and LOTS of repeating of the same things to get it right.
SECRET No. 3: Practice is a life-long and evolving process. This requires heaps of self-discipline, and I believe that self-discipline is a learned skill that is too-often missing in this modern age of quick returns. Children, through the act of regular home practice, are not only honing their basic music skills – they are also practising their ability to practise.
SECRET No. 4: I like to have children see that one of our main goals is to “get the feel of the chord (or melody) INSIDE our fingers”. Like any of the more athletic skills, instrumental development is a MUSCULAR development – we need to develop our muscles, ligaments and tendons to perform the task at hand with strength and dexterity, and this can only be attained over time with lots of repetition.
SECRET No 5: I still need to (and do) practise every day. All musicians do. It is the only way to maintain the standards of instrumental playing that you have currently attained.