This is a great article from Deceptive Cadence, an NPR program—a wonderful, brief 10-item list of ways to get the most out of practice, good advice for kids and for adults. There was also had a link to an article—“Getting Kids to Practice Music – Without Tears or Tantrums”—which I found very helpful.
All 10 tips are wonderful, and contain advice and direction I give the students, but I really like No. 4 and use it in my own daily practice:
Begin with the end in mind: Have a goal for each practice session before you start playing. Just playing through your music isn’t the same thing as practicing.Before you start, think: What do I want to accomplish today? If you’re not sure what you need to focus on, ask your teacher for a few concrete goals to work toward before the next lesson — and write them down so that you can refer to them during your practice sessions.
Another item talks about how a good, “working” practice involves analysis of and then solving problems, which is most of what music practice is! Spills over into other areas of life really nicely, great for developing these skills in children!
Recently I did No. 9 on the list; I took my music that I was going to play on the street pianos in Boston with me on the train and reviewed it while riding in. 🙂