How to Practice Anything (especially the piano)

This blog post by a fellow piano teacher is wonderful, I can say that her advice here is invaluable.¬†(Beta-tested it this summer.) ūüėČ

This is wonderful reading for not only parents, but for older students, too. And piano teachers!

Here is the link. You can also download it here as a PDF to print it out to read it again and again.

How to Practice Anything
by Regina Ngo
http://rmslearning.me/how-to-practice-anything/

Regina Ngo
Regina’s Music Studio, S. Pasadena, CA
Website: http://rmslearning.me

It’s May at Cape Ann Piano: Time to Practice for the Elephants!

The Practice for the Elephants Contest begins today and runs for 4 weeks through May 27th.

What Is the Practice for the Elephants Contest?

Students¬†practice and earn two cents for every minute practiced over the course of 4 weeks. At the end, students¬†total up the funds they raise, which is used to¬†foster 10 orphaned elephants, we will continue to support the elephants we began to foster last year. If there are extra funds (it’s $50 a year for each elephant) we will donate them to be used by the Trust where most needed. Printed handouts on the contest, as well as the practice sheets and contest rules, are in the studio.
These African elephants have been orphaned due to the illegal poaching of elephants for their ivory. The use of ivory for piano keys once contributed to the ivory trade. Of course, ivory is no longer used; polymers and mixtures of plastics are used instead for the key tops.

Click here for the PDF with more details on contest, and and why we do it!

Click here for more information about the The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

This contest was created by friend and fellow piano instructor, Penny Lazarus.

Want to be a matching donor for a piano student practicing for the elephants? Contact me¬†here. If you’re part of the studio, let me know in lessons and I’ll pair you up with a young student!

Two of our baby elephants:

Ndotto relaxing the sun.
Ndotto relaxing the sun.
Mwashoti with his keeper.
Mwashoti with his keeper.

Follow the DSWT on Facebook

Follow the DSWT on Twitter

I will be posting updates on the students’ progress practicing as well as about our foster elephants throughout the contest.

Piano and other teachers interested in this contest, you can contact me here.

 

Dame Daphne Sheldrick with Lominyek and his keeper.

8 Things Top Practicers Do Differently (from creativity post website)

http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/8_things_top_practicers_do_differently

This is an article about a study done at the University of Austin to learn more about specific practice habits of piano majors‚ÄĒwho were the best players and most effective learners. Really cool.

Granted this is a study with collegiate piano majors, but I think these findings are good tips for all of us, young and old alike!

Check out the top 8 strategies that led to the most success. (I also like the part about instilling kids with some sort of a work ethic that comes in handy in the future. Totally true.)

What I especially find interesting¬†is the part about how many times the participants played the passage¬†incorrectly: “the more times they played it incorrectly, the worse their ranking tended to be.”

“The researchers note that the most striking difference between the top three pianists and the rest, was¬†how they handled mistakes.”

Great quote at the end of the article:

“Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.”
‚ÄĒGeorge Bernard Shaw

And this one is one of my favorites, I think about it a lot:

“Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time.”
‚ÄĒLudwig van Beethoven

8 Things Top Practicers Do Differently (from http://www.creativitypost.com)

 

Practice for the Elephants Contest Begins April 8!

The Practice for the Elephants Contest starts again next week and runs for 6 weeks through May 23rd.

For my students new to piano this year:

Students¬†practice and earn two cents for every minute practiced over the course of 6 weeks. At the end, we total up the funds we raise, and foster¬†orphaned elephants, that is, we will continue to support the elephants we began to foster last year. If there are extra funds (it’s $50 a year for each elephant) we will foster another baby elephant. These elephants have been orphaned due to¬†the illegal poaching of elephants for their ivory. The use of ivory for piano keys once contributed to the ivory trade. Of course, ivory is no longer used; polymers and mixtures of plastics are used instead for the key tops.

Printed handouts on the contest, as well as the practice sheets, are in the studio. Click here for the PDF with more details on contest, and and why we do it!

Here are our three adopted elephants, all doing well!, with updates:

Chemi Chemi: Keeper’s Diary update
Barsilinga: Keeper’s Diary update
Lominyek: There is no Keeper’s Diary update for Lominyek, as he is now, happily,¬†living in the wild with other elephants in¬†Tsavo¬†East National Park in Kenya. Because he is, we will be transferring our donation to another younger orphan who needs us!

Click here for more information about the The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. This wonderful contest was created by fellow piano instructor, Penny Lazarus.

Want to sponsor a student? If you’re not a part of the studio, click here. If you are, let me know in the lessons and I’ll pair you up with a young student!

Barsilinga and Lemoyian playing in the puddle.
Barsilinga and Lemoyian playing in the puddle.
Chemi Chemi (left) playing with a friend.
Chemi Chemi (left) playing with a friend.
Lominyek with his keepers.
Lominyek with his keepers.

10 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Music Practice

This is a great article from Deceptive Cadence, an NPR program‚ÄĒa 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‚ÄĒ“Getting Kids to Practice Music ‚Äď Without Tears or Tantrums”‚ÄĒwhich 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 ‚ÄĒ 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. ūüôā

LINKS:
10 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Music Practice
The Young Person’s Guide to Making Music

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Adult Students (and kids!): How Much Should I Practice Each Day?

A question I get a lot, from both my young students, and ¬†from my adult students as well, is “How much should I practice each day?”

My answer: “As much as possible!” ūüôā But not mindlessly, but mindfully.

Truly, there isn’t enough time in the day to practice, or to do everything we want to do. I guess it boils down to priorities.

Especially for working adults.

Whatever you can do, do it. Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day, make it 30 minutes¬†every day to start (and try to work up to 45‚Äď60 minutes, if you can). Establishing a routine is critical for success.

How much do I practice?¬†My goal is an hour in the morning, and an hour at night, as these are the times I am the most focused. And I do entirely different activities during these sessions. I also squeeze in mini-sessions (10‚Äď15 minutes) of practice on breaks between students during the day. (Piano is my living, so I have more time for it.)

But there is a way to practice. And that is, as the article below discusses,¬†deliberately.¬†Personally, if I am not focused, I just leave the piano. After over 40 years at the piano, I still work on passages slowly and repetitively. I analyze what I am doing: and since I’m a very analytical person, I enjoy this work and look forward to it, at every practice session. If you find you are frustrated or not focused, get up and take a break, or come back later.

Ok, I gotta run, time to practice!

The below article is a great read on this very subject:

How Many Hours a Day Should You Practice?

juliecleveland

Update: Practice for the Elephants Contest

The Practice for the Elephants Contest¬†raised $155.74, enough for us to adopt 3 orphaned baby elephants for a year, or 1 for 3 years, I’ll let the students decide. I am so proud of all of them for raising this money, just by practicing the piano, to help the orphaned elephants in Kenya.

Below: The Cape Ann Piano Studio’s first jar of pennies toward adopting our baby elephants!

practiceelephantscontest
Julie Cleveland with Ava, who raised $4.20 toward adopting orphaned baby elephants in Kenya, just by practicing the piano!

Baby elephants are orphaned when their parents are killed for their tusks for the ivory trade. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust helps these orphaned elephants. For more information on the fostering program for orphaned elephants in Kenya, please click here.