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Practice Zone: Hints to Effective Practice

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 by Betsy Breaker | Effective Practice

The Practice Zone is a space conducive to focused work, minimal distractions, with all the tools needed at-hand. It’s also helpful if the Practice Zone is not off in a remote corner of your home making practice time feel like an exile to Siberia! Distractions can be minimized if your family can adopt a collaborative spirit and agree to no TV while piano practice is occurring, eliminating the need for banishing your young pianist to that far-off piano location. Obviously every house layout is different and we only have so many options for where we can locate a sizable instrument in the house: just do your best!

One of my piano families noted that when they moved their piano from the basement up to the foyer, right at the base of the stairs to the second floor, the piano was practiced much more. It was centrally located in the house and in a place where the piano was just begging to be played whenever a student walked past (which was often!).

Another element of the Practice Zone is having all books and materials handy, including their practice pouch which is equipped with pencil, highlighter, Post-It notes and a variety of additional practice tools. A Practice Zone is a work zone, not a play zone, so having these tools is an important reminder of, and also assistance for, the work to be done! Every page that has a Post-It flag is requiring attention at home. Be sure to check their practice binder for a full list of assignments, and there will likely be Post-It flags on pages in their binder as well.

The last component of the Practice Zone is you! The more involved you are in your child’s practice, the more successful your child will be. For a younger child, it may mean sitting on the bench with them and helping them read instructions. It may also mean learning alongside your child…having them teach you their pieces is a fantastic motivator! Or just be in the room to keep your child from feeling isolated. For late-elementary and middle school students your presence may even not be in the same room but it should be close by and providing feedback – encouragement and suggestions. “I’m hearing real progress on that section, can I hear it again?”