Practice-a-thon enhanced with tech!

Leslie Brown Katz said: Feb 21, 2018
Leslie Brown Katz
Suzuki Association Member
15 posts

Practicing through the Holidays can be special to say the least.
Being a performing musician, I have no time to put on a Studio Holiday Concert (although it can stimulate practicing) and I dread dodging family travel and party plans.
My solution has been to have a Practice-a-thon that goes through the holidays.

This winter my Studio had a real break through with our annual Practice-a-thon!

It always starts the day after Thanksgiving, and goes right up to New Years, when we gather for a potluck Pizza Party to celebrate our efforts and play holiday tunes together.
Practice Tickets are earned with each Practice Session, then entered into a drawing. In the past they have tracked their Five Minute Focus, Length of practice session, Time of Day, etc.
Practice Tickets are turned in at each lesson, and progress is charted on the wall with colored stars relating to the length of each practice session. Some years it was “blind” so that students could not tell who was out in front (they hated that), some times it was salmon going up a fish ladder, or monkeys going up a palm tree.

Challenges: some students don’t actually fill out the tickets, or make up stuff to please me, or “forget” to bring them to lesson. Some students are SO in the practice habit that they ask to be left out of the drawings because they always win.

THIS year, I had a brainstorm!
The 2018 innovation would be a “30 second Video” component, inspired by Hillary Hahn’s video practice blog.
At the end of each practice session, students create a “30 Second Demo of the Focus Point.”
No tracking of dates and times needed, but they DID have to Label their clip with their name and Focus point.
The clips were then uploaded to our private studio YouTube channel, which all of us can see.
I also uploaded summaries from my own practice—no hair or make up! (My daughter pointed out that the students need to see the difference between performance and grunt work. Let’s just say, for the health and safety or all concerned, I appreciate back lighting!)
Prizes were Nutcrackers from World Market. All different kinds were lined up on the harpsichord, and students plotted on which one they would earn—if they got to 15 days before someone else claimed the same Nutcracker. Once they achieved 15 days, they put their name on their chosen Nutcracker, and kept practicing to complete as many days as possible before the Pizza Party.
Bonus prizes (from local violin shops) were then drawn from all of the properly uploaded video clips (labeled, and under 30 seconds) We rolled dice. The first number was the date, the second number was the # of video clip in that days list.

The grand take away:
100% participation
Happy Students—kids wanted to record. Younger siblings could also be seen making a bow at the end of clips.
Happy Parents—easy to know “what to do” each day, could be heard singing along with their child, did not have to beg their child to practice.
Happy Teacher—Practice points worked on during the week! (Bonus peek to see if there was confusion before waiting for the next lesson.)
Increased awareness and articulation of practice content.
Lots of Progress!!

Many students STILL upload video clips!
They are creating their own “100 days in a row”

I hope this gives you some ideas for giving your studio opportunities to learn how to follow directions (great prep for audition submissions and college applications!) and have fun with focus and big results.

Joanna Ruth Livioco-Tumpalan said: Feb 21, 2018
Joanna Ruth Livioco-Tumpalan
Suzuki Association Member
2 posts

This is great! Thanks for sharing!

Edward said: Mar 16, 2018
Edward Obermueller
Suzuki Association Member
Morris Plains, NJ
73 posts

Valuable stuff here. I especially like the video demo of the focus point.

AND—I would encourage you to capture the process, including setting up a private You Tube channel, into a downloadable PDF for your website.

Happy practicing,

Free Guide: Mom, Dad, Can I Practice?
Free Game: Leprechaun Practice System --> Works for online teaching!

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