How much practice to do?

said: Dec 1, 2008
 1 posts

Hi, my 5 year old has been learning since May. She is fairly confident now with her Twinkle variations and has just started playing Twinkle. I am not sure how long we should be spending on practice sessions. Her teacher made us a practice chart with all the variations and we have been playing them and ticking them off but it doesn’t seem to take too long—I am unsure how to extend her practice time.
Any ideas????

Jennifer Visick said: Dec 1, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1076 posts

Do you have games or songs to work on better bow hold, better posture, etc.? How about making listening a bigger part of practicing—e.g., play a twinkle, listen to a “random” song from the book 1 cd, maybe play “name that tune”, play another variation, dance to a song from book 2, play another twinkle variation, do a couple of “best bow hold” poses, play another variation, listen to a few more songs from book 1 (maybe make up words that “fit” a song that’s not being played yet?)—play another variation, this time focusing on really beautiful sound for each rhythm, etc.

Tim said: Mar 12, 2009
 1 posts

I went through this with my daughter not too long ago. She is now on Andantino. I would often throw in questions about the parts of the violin/bow. We did scales quite a bit, and I would often let her make up her own songs with the twinkle rhythms. Sometimes we’d get an inspired little tune, but most often we got something resembling a scale from open g up to a (on the e string). It was really just a way to get some more playing time without endlessly repeating the twinkle variations. She would also sometimes come up with her own rhythm for the twinkles, or play them starting on the d string. We also had sad twinkles (minor key—lower the 3rd and 6th notes of the scale), but I didn’t tell her teacher about those.

Diane said: Mar 12, 2009
Diane AllenViolin
244 posts

“I am not sure how long we should be spending on practice sessions.”

At this stage I’m not sure “how long” is as important as other issues. Being close to putting all the Twinkles together is exciting. Practicing daily and with good posture and tone for 5—15 minutes is much more important than 30 minutes with poor posture etc.

As students get more advanced and older—I like to go by however long your lesson is—that is how long you practice and it must be 5—7 days a week. 3-4 days per week maintains, 3 or less days per week deteriorates.

I hope this gives you some guidlines you were looking for!

Happy Practicing!

Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

said: Mar 13, 2009
 48 posts

In the pre-twinkle/twinkle stage, it really does take a lot of creativity to keep going. All of RaineJen’s suggestions are good. There are an infinite number of possible games and variations that can be used to keep things from getting stale.

One day, get out the wooden blocks and build a tower while they play the variations—say, add one block for each time they play the set of variations (or play a single one on each string). It becomes a competition—can they keep playing long enough that your tower gets too high and collapses? (I’ve never known a kid not to rise to that particular challenge, though if necessary you can always bump the tower a bit when adding a block, if they seem to be getting bored).

The next day, get out the monopoly money and announce that you’ll pay them $50 for each time they do X, $100 for Y, $500 for Z, etc. See how rich they can become! Then, at the end of practice, put a bunch of their stuffed animals on the sofa and pretend that they’re going to the pet store or the zoo or whatever and they use the monopoly money to “buy” the animals, buy “food” for the animals, etc. The key thing is to be creative!

Laurel said: Mar 17, 2009
Laurel MacCulloch
Suzuki Association Member
Langley, BC
120 posts

Ooooh, Monopoly money! That’s a great idea—I think I’ll try that with my own kids!

As a variation—if you have a child who’s about 7 or so, or whenever they are learning to count money in school, have them keep track of their “earnings” in their heads. Their music and their math skills will both benefit!


said: Apr 26, 2009
 4 posts

How about playing the song at different speeds? I am reading a new book that says how important it is to practice the song really slowly, for deeper practice. My children’s teacher has them also play really quickly sometimes too. It’s fun for my little one!

said: Apr 28, 2009
 12 posts

How about playing the song at different speeds? I am reading a new book that says how important it is to practice the song really slowly, for deeper practice.

Playing in different tempos is one of the main teaching points of the Suzuki Method. You find a consistent approach to this in the Step-by-Step-series (published by Alfred).

All pieces of the Suzuki repertoire, volumes 1-3 are recorded in three different tempos which is a milestone for a solid development. Besides this you find many other fundamental exercises which are great fun for my students.

Since I use these exercise books / CDs all my students practice more than before AND have better results.

Try it! You and your child will love it!


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