a foundation of good practicing

A student can be bright and talented, have a true love and appreciation of music, can catch on to concepts very quickly and sight read well, BUT will they really be good musicians and have a good musical foundation if they do not practice consistently? If they don’t make an effort to apply themselves, or if they are not taught good practicing techniques/habits by their piano teacher, are they really becoming good pianists?

Teaching our students how to practice and helping them establish good practicing habits is key in laying a solid musical foundation for their continued music study. In the past few days I have read a few things that have really made me think about practicing – how I can better teach my students to practice, how I can help them enjoy practicing more, and how I can help them practice more effectively:

    With Your Own Two Hands: Self-Discovery Through Music

  • I have just barely started reading the book With Your Own Two Hands: Self-Discovery Through Music by Seymour Bernstein. And I mean just barely – like I’ve read the introduction and a couple of pages. But so far I love it! It talks about how skills gained in practicing can influence your life. And something that really got me thinking was that it mentioned something about practicing and discovery. And it made me think – when my students practice, is their practice session full of discovery and excitement or drudgery and monotony? Is it a real joy for them to be learning new pieces and new concepts (and do they speed through their method books as a result) – or do they just do the bare minimum practice requirements and call it good? Something to think about!
  • I read a great article on The Musicians Way Blog about mindsets and how they influence practicing. The author talked about two different types of mindsets – the “growth mindset” and the “fixed mindset.” Those with a growth mindset might hear a great performance and “inquire about the ways in which the artist acquired fluency and then apply their discoveries in the practice room.” Those with a fixed mindset would hear the same performance and think, “They’re more talented than me. I could never do that.” Go check out the article!
  • Mariel Mohns wrote a post on her blog (fenwickpianostudio.blogspot.com) about helping her students become perfect practicers. She includes a great chart to help students apply good practicing techniques at home. I think this is a fabulous way to ensure our students are becoming good practicers at home!
Thoughts? Comments? 🙂
Jennifer Boster

2 Responses to “a foundation of good practicing

  • Thanks for linking to my post, Jenny!

    I LOVE the article from the Musician's Way blog. There are definitely times when I feel like I have the "fixed-mindset", so I learned a lot from this article 🙂

    I think it's important to stress to our students/parents, as well, that building these foundation skills in piano practice will cross over to all areas of life: studying for a test, training for a sport, preparing for job interviews, etc. Having the ability to use their "growth-mindset" skills and creativity will inspire greater success in future endeavors. Sometimes we focus so much on HOW to play piano, that we forget these basic skills and the WHY of playing piano are also enriching in different areas of life achievement.

  • Mariel – no problem! I loved your post! And you make an excellent point about the skills learned in piano practicing crossing over to so many other areas in life. Thanks for the great comment!