5 Rules for a Successful Practice
1. Practice with quality first, then quantity.
Repetition first starts with quality. Once you have the quality, you increase the quantity. Repetition is not one or the other, quality or quantity. It has to be quality first, and then quantity. Without this important detail, you are missing both the reason for practice, and the life lesson that is there for your child to learn.
If you think doing something 5 times is going to do the trick for them, think again. If someone told you to do 50 push ups today, how long would it take you to make 50 push ups easy with perfect form? Probably a while. When you teach your dog a new trick, how long does it take them to understand the trick and perform it easily and consistently? Usually a while. When you watch your child try to write their name at 3 years old, 4 years old, 5, 6, 7, it increasingly gets better, but slowly over years even though they write it almost every day. Their handwriting will look drastically better at 16 than it will at 4. It takes repetition.
Just because you did something for a week, doesn't mean your repetitions were exactly right. It doesn't mean it’s perfect and you get to move on, and it doesn't always mean it’s ready to be built on yet. Repetition builds muscle memory, brain to body to ear connection, and refines their skills.
When someone yells at you, do you ever feel more motivated? Ready to work harder? Most people don’t, and actually dwell on the fact that they've been scolded or yelled at, and find it harder to concentrate. Patience will help the child feel safe to make mistakes with you, and try their hardest. Patience will allow space for repetitions, praise, building confidence, and a practice that makes them feel accomplished. If you feel yourself boiling over during practice time and cannot maintain your patience, ask yourself why you are frustrated? Is it because of the length of time it is taking your child to understand? Is it because you don’t know if you are doing it right? Is it because of something that happened to you earlier that day and you brought your own problems to your child’s practice that day? Take a moment to let it go, and bring it up to your teacher at your next lesson.
4. One point practicing.
Focus on one point, stay after it, stay on it, don’t give up, and don’t add more. The point of this is to draw as many connections for them as possible. It may seem obvious to us, but to a child, they need help connecting the dots. The other reason for this is because it is hard to spin a lot of plates at once, as we all know. If you want them to be successful at one thing, have them be successful at that one thing. Trying to do too much will be too hard for them, too much to handle, and too overwhelming, and not maintainable.
Things that should stay consistent if possible:
-Time of day. Try to stick to the same time of day if you can, so that the practice is more expected and they know thats what they do at that time every day no matter what. It eliminates arguments, practice resistance, and keeps your schedule maintainable.
-Practice Parent. when information is being passed from parent to parent, information gets missed or confused, and in some cases the child begins to understand that they don’t need to be as held accountable. If the parent that wasn’t in the lesson is the practice parent for that week, some kids start to argue with the parent that they weren’t in the lesson so they don’t know what the teacher really said, and this can obviously cause problems.
-The way you start and end practice. this means with the bow, with starting with review and ending with your working piece, or with always starting and ending with something they enjoy and are excited about.
-Amount of time. If every day is a different amount of time, this allows for greater chance of fighting for how long you should be practicing, or for anxiety from the child not knowing if its a day where they have to practice for what feels like forever, or if its a quick and dirty practice day. Every day, you should be practicing the amount of time that your lesson is. If your lesson is 30 min, you should be practicing at home for 30 min every day.
-Practice expectations. These include things like quality, good attitude, doing as the teacher has asked, and making it through your checklist of things to cover.
Not every practice will be perfect, and not every week will be successful. However, your top priority is to be your child’s support. Remember that doing these things will make them more successful at their lesson, which means a successful lesson, moving forward, growth, and building confidence and self esteem.