Teaching Music: How to Practice

So I’ve started to teach a 6 weeks recorder class out of my house and things are going very well. I think that the kids are learning very fast and are excited about learning too. I just want to put out there my general thoughts on how to practice. I think it’s important that kids learn to practice just like they learn to do anything else. So here are the steps I give all my students no matter the instrument they are playing. Music is complex and it’s so hard to do everything at once so I like to break it down. I always have my kids practice with a metronome and only go as fast as they can say/play the most difficult part. There are several free ones as apps for devices.

Note Values Chart

Rest Values Chart

  1. Say the rhythm– I always have the kids look at a piece of music and identify the rhythm first. We say the rhythm using Ta, Ti-ti, To-oo, etc.
  2. Identify Note Names- Obviously this is for beginners. If it’s for piano and they aren’t reading notes on the staff yet I have them look at finger numbers. Now I have them say the note names with the rhythm.
  3. Finger Along- The next step is to say the rhythm with the note names and finger the notes on the instrument. For piano, I have the students tap their fingers on the piano cover. For Recorder, I have them put their instrument on their chin to do this.
  4. Play- Now I have them play the song. This is where the rubber meets the road and they may mess up and that’s ok. Then, I have them identify where they may have messed up and see if they can fix it. If need be we can go back through the steps.

I find it crucial that the students learn to listen for their own mistakes. Sometimes it’s hard for them to evaluate themselves so I have them practice while looking in the mirror or record themselves and listen back. It all depends on the skill I am wanting to develop.

Although these aren’t all the steps, here is an example of a simple song broken down.

Notes and Rhythm- https://youtu.be/gjVV2ErJ1OA

Song- https://youtu.be/ZXWHxK8qJFs

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