What do you say to parents and students about practice? (How much vs. “Just learn these songs by next week”)


Daniel: “What do you say to parents and students about practice? How much or just know these songs next week?” That’s a great question, Paula. Thanks for the question.

Early on, one of the first things I say to parents is, “You’re going to notice at the beginning that the songs are kind of short. They’re actually not going to spend much time practicing. That’ll go up with time, but here at the beginning it’s not that much.” That is probably one of the last times that I address the topic of practice verbally, unless the parent initiates it. Because what I do after that point is, I have a series of emails that I send out to families over the course of the first year that reminds of how much practice I recommend at each level and then I will actually talk about that about once a year at the beginning of the school year and it just kind of as a helpful reminder for parents what those practice expectations are.

But I try, I don’t really talk about all that much. In terms of the students, my habit is just to tell them that I want these songs done when you come back. If you play five minutes, great. If it takes you five hours, that’s okay, but tell me because I don’t want you playing that much. You know if feel like you’re in level two or something. Although I’d probably never say that. But I think you get my point, like with a student it is what you mentioned there. It’s more, “Hey have these done.”

Now like I said, there’s a certain percentage of my studio casual families, I’m fine letting them in for whatever reason, they don’t play all that much or they might go through a season. I had a really great student this last year. She was in the fall production and she was in the spring production of a play at her high school and her practice time dropped way, way off. She actually left the one-on-one program and came back into group, at like level seven, but her mom didn’t want her to drop out and she said, “I think we want to go back to group for a little while.” I mean that tells you what the opinion of the groups are after a certain point. If the parent is asking me to put the kid back in the group because they need more practice time, like the message has been read loud and clear by that mom.

My point is that, there are seasons and I don’t nag students about practice. The only thing that I really get on a student about is if I’m having to repeat myself over and over again with instructions. You’ve got ears, you’ve got a brain, you can remember that I just told you to do that five times, not three, things like that. That’s where I’ll get a little, I’ll use my doctor voice, since that’s the theme of the night, I use my doctor voice with those kids when they start doing that. But practice, I don’t really get on kids cases. I will start making more of a deal of practice if a kid has committed to like recital or an exam and there’s a problem. But overall, I pretty much leave that topic alone other than some of the things that I send out informational wise.

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