The keys to success when learning to play a musical instrument are PRACTICE and ORGANIZATION. Students will be expected to make a commitment to a minimum of 120 practice minutes per week, with 20 to 30 minutes recommended per day. Most of the students in the band program practice 180 minutes or more per week, making it part of their daily routine. Although practice does not guarantee excellence, it does play a major role in achieving the best level of performance for each student.
Parents and students should give serious consideration to whether a child’s schedule of activities would prevent them from giving the instrument the attention it needs. If your child is currently studying piano privately, playing a school instrument is an excellent idea, as your child already has the knowledge of the music notes. (Please keep in mind that MANY students in the Instrumental Music Program participate in sports, dance, clubs, and other extracurricular activities. This teaches the students responsibility and organization in balancing their other activities in addition to music.)
Here are a few things to keep in mind about practicing:
· All students who have signed up for lessons are aware that they must practice a MINIMUM of 120 minutes a week. It is HIGHLY recommended that this is accomplished over a 6-day or a 7-day span (minimum would be approximately 20 minutes a day). All students at our school are required to keep a practice sheet, which is to be completed during the course of the week. A parent/guardian signature is required each week to verify the total minutes for the week. PLEASE VERIFY THAT YOUR CHILD’S RECORD-KEEPING IS ACCURATE – AN INACCURATE RECORD IS ONLY HURTING YOUR CHILD’S CHANCE OF SUCCESS FOR THE FUTURE.
· In the event that a student does not have his/her homework or is unprepared, the student will receive a warning from the teacher. For the 2nd offense, a phone call will be made to the student’s home to make the parents aware of the situation and the student may be asked to return to class, at the music teacher’s discretion. For the 3rd offense, a meeting may be arranged for the student with the principal and the music teacher to discuss the future of the child in the instrumental music program.
· PRACTICING ENVIRONMENT. The ideal practice area is one free of distractions (television, siblings, video games, computers, etc.). It is HIGHLY recommended that students have a good, sturdy chair for support while they practice, as well as a music stand. Studies have proven that students are far more likely to develop back problems from being hunched over due to improper seating (couch, loveseat, bean bag chair, etc.) and the lack of a music stand.
· The minimum practice time per week is listed at 120 minutes, but 120 minutes should certainly not be the goal for the week. Students over the years who have enjoyed the greatest success have practice anywhere from 180 to 400 minutes a week. By starting students with practice sheets from the beginning, it will help to reinforce the time commitment necessary on his/her instrument. Eventually, the ideal situation is for the student to be practicing with consistency each week and without the constant reminder by teachers and/or parents. PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of practice sheets is not to TORTURE the students into practicing – the purpose is to develop a weekly routine for years to come.
· Practice doesn’t make perfect. PERFECT practice makes perfect. Students should always practice their assignment for the week (lesson book, scales, band music, etc.) before moving on to material that they already know. Regardless of your own musical knowledge, if you hear your child practicing Jingle Bells and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star about 37 times per practice session, perhaps it would be wise to suggest moving on to something else.
· Parents and student should work together to consider the child’s schedule of activities when planning practice time. It may be in the best interests of the child to divide extended practice time or a day (EXAMPLE: 15 minutes in the morning before school and 15 minutes after dinner). NOTE: A VAST MAJORITY of the instrumental music students in our school are VERY active in multiple sports and other activities.