Sometimes it’s fun to shake things up a bit – maybe mix them around. The complaints I hear most from students who don’t like practicing is that it’s too hard, or it’s too boring. Here’s a solution for both!
They aren’t really blocks like the ones we played with as kids. They are small sections of your practice assignment.
Take your overall weekly practicing assignment and split it up into smaller sections, called “Blocks”.
Technique: Most students have technique to practice. This would be things like scales, 5-finger patterns, and hand or finger exercises.
Theory: This is usually written worksheets. It’s everything you need to know about how music works.
Review: I think it’s great for students to regularly go back over old pieces they have passed off. It keeps the music fresh so they can perform it when they want to, and it also acts like a marker for how far they have come.
Learn a new section: I encourage my students to learn their new music in small sections (usually 2-4 measures). Learning one section well should only take a few minutes.
Memorization: Always be memorizing. It keeps a piece ready for performance, and it strengthens your “memorization” muscle!
FREE CHOICE: Sometimes students want to learn songs outside of their assignment. They can also take some time to compose, improvise, and just play around to have fun at the piano.
Here are some ideas for how to use these Practice Blocks.
- Spend only 5 minutes on each block. Set a timer if you’d like.
- Write the name of each block on a piece of paper, and fold them up in bowl. Draw a piece of paper and then practice that block for at least 5 minutes. This way, the order is random.
- There are 6 blocks (you can substitute, or add more). Roll a die. This makes it completely random, and you will probably end up repeating some blocks, and not getting to others. Maybe you could have a 10 minute “make up” time at the end of practicing if you think you’ve missed too much, or didn’t get enough time on one of the blocks.
- Divide practice time up. This works well for younger students. Set a time for each block (3, 4, 5 minutes?). When they practice, they only choose two blocks – or draw them out of a bowl, or roll the die. Then they can go do something else. However, they will have to practice at least three times a day – but for much shorter times.
Dividing up practicing into sections can add variety, and unexpected randomness so kids don’t get bored or overwhelmed.