Daily Practice Tips

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Jenny Lopez-Rogina said: Jan 2, 2018
1 posts

I am new to the site, so if my question has been answered else where in the forum, please direct me to it.

My 5 (almost 6 year old) daughter has been going to guitar lessons for about 6 months now. I understand the importance of practicing daily but have struggled to maintain a consistent schedule for her at home. I have a full time job and commute an hour (in traffic) to and from work; by the time I get home it’s dinner time and then bed time….do you have any tips on how to start and maintain a consistent schedule for her on daily basis with the little time that we have?

I also want to encourage her to practice and make it rewarding for her (positive reinforcement), so any suggestions on how to accomplish that would be very appreciated as well.

Thank you!!

Barbara Rylander said: Jan 3, 2018
Barbara RylanderViolin, Viola
Saline, MI
29 posts

Hi Jenny,

It is wonderful that you have invested in your child’s musical development. However, I want to share with you what I learned awhile ago from a well known teacher doing parent education seminars (It’s been awhile, so I’m not remembering her name)

The Suzuki method as it was implemented in Japan, has a stay at home mother. I was just talking to a friend who is Japanese and grew up in Japan. She pointed out that in Japanese schools just to be a teacher in a regular classroom you must play the piano. Music is also more thoroughly integrated into their day.

What I have found with parents in your situation is that what happens quite often is that it is just not tenable. We have been led to believet that if we just organize ourselves and our time well enough,anything is possible. As a long-time Suzuki teacher, and as a mother of 5 grown daughters (all who played instruments quite well) and as a twice divorced mom who did the parenting time pretty much alone, I’d like toshare a few things.

First of all the developmental stage of a 5 or 6 year old means that almost all of them are tired by the end of the school day, mentally if not physically. I also have been subbing in some of the best schools in the country for the last 3 years. When young children are in after school care and the only time is this very short window of opportunity, it is a very difficult situation.

I would strongly encourage you to carefully consider not so much doing, doing, doing, but “being”. Your Child’s Growing Mind is a wonderful book.

I have pulled a number of families with working parents through to have students that play well and love music. It costs a lot, and progress is slower, and the stress of fitting it in remains an issue. Traditional study is just more expensive at early ages, because young children need someone older to guide practice.

I was able to homeschool my younger children and build my business around their musical education, offering Kindermusik and developing a studio.

My recommendations would be
1. Musikgarten or Kindermusik as a weekly class and fabulous foundation
2. Children’s choir, again many transferrable skills and not much work for you
3. Taking the guitar to after school care and paying a high school student to work with your child, allowing you to create a workable schedule of minimal practice in the evenings
4. video all lessons—but in 10 minute increments—and use these for your teen age practice sub to practice with your child.
5. Practice awareness of your child’s needs and allow practice time to consist of listening to music, the videos, or You Tube instead of actually playing.
6. This goes along with “being”, being a musician, having the habit of daily focus on music. This can evolve into an hour of practice time as your child matures
7. Remember that as children get older they sleep less! So if you can keep going in a positive direction, one element will change for sure.
8. My perspective is from my experience and eternal optimism that anything is possible. I tried to accomodate the families with your situation and unfortunately, if the child could not practice and progress, it was sad to see their little faces feeling like they just couldn’t do it, when really it was just a very complicated situation.
9. Speaking from the heart! Blessings!

Christine said: Jan 3, 2018
Christine GoodnerInstitute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
Hillsboro, OR
99 posts

I suggest finding a time that works for each day of the week (not necessarily the same time every day) for a busier schedule like you describe.

How long are the practice sessions you are aiming for now? I think doing something, each day, is important to build the habit and then you can stretch out the time or have two shorter sessions once the habit is built.

I would also suggest lots and lots of listening at this point. I like the families I work with to think about the first 6-12 months of lessons as a period of learning how to integrate this method into their daily lives. I would not be frustrated if you feel like you’re still learning to do this at 6 months in, but keep working at it for sure.
I invite you to check out some of the articles on my blog (link below) if you think it might help to read more on the topic.

All the best!

Christine Goodner

Blog: The Suzuki Triangle

Suzuki Licensed Book: Beyond the Music Lesson: Habits of Successful Suzuki Families

“When Love is Deep, Much can be Accomplished” ~ Suzuki

Amy said: Jan 4, 2018
Suzuki Association Member
74 posts

Dear Jenny,
Kudos to you for wanting to make an effort for music to be a truly enriching part of your daughter’s life! Barbara and Christine both have some great suggestions, and I would add to consider associating 2-5 minutes of practice time with breakfast and dinner. Dr. Suzuki said you only need to practice on days that you eat. Consider a routine of: finish eating, put dishes in sink or dishwasher, get out instrument and practice with mom for a few minutes, finish getting ready for school or bed. This has proved a great routine for some of my students.

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