Improving Our Students’ Practicing with Practice Tricks

One of the biggest challenges we as piano teachers face is how to teach and encourage really good practicing skills at home. Without the know-how and a way to motivate students to use good strategies, many practice hours are wasted every week. Without giving our students the tools they need to learn to be self-motivated and efficient practicers, students and parents go through a lot of unneeded frustration.

How to Teach Good Practicing Skills?

I held a group class for my piano studio recently and I really wanted to find a way to teach them some better practicing strategies – a way that could be easily implemented at home so that the concepts and strategies would start to stick. I read through a lot of my pedagogy books and notes and started writing down my ideas from my own experience as a teacher and as a pianist, and I came up with 33 practice “tricks” I wanted to teach my students. From that the Practice Tricks Pack came about, and I am super excited about it! This thing just came together so quickly, it was so fun to make and exciting to see it take shape!

My Practice Tricks Pack and How I Used It

I turned each of the 33 tricks into adorable cards, each with a memorable picture to remind students what the strategy is. I printed, laminated and cut out a set for each student so they have a complete set to help in their at-home practice. I made larger signs of each strategy to use as visuals as we learned together how each strategy works. (These 5″x7″ signs would also be SO cute on a studio bulletin board, or framed one at a time to teach a “Piano Practice Trick of the Week!”) Each student brought their music to the class and I instructed them to each get out a piece that they are currently starting on, and one that they are just finishing up. Students took turns coming up to the piano to try out the different strategies for the class using their pieces-in-progress. We had a lot of fun and were able to discuss effective ways to practice at home!

I sent each student home with a colorful pencil pouch containing their deck of Practice Tricks Cards as well as a pencil and five pennies (to use in the 5 Pennies Game – one of the practice strategies we discussed). If I had had more time I am sure I could have added more fun items to their practice kit, but the cards themselves give them plenty to do!

A cute addition to a piano practice kit!

How Students Use the Practice Tricks at Home

There are many ways you could use the Practice Tricks Cards. One really effective way is to shuffle the deck, and for each piece a student practices they draw the card on top of the deck and read it. Then they use that strategy in their practicing of that piece. I am already super encouraged with the results! My 9-year-old son had the best and most effective practice session of his life yesterday using his fun Practice Tricks Cards, without any grumbling about counting out loud or anything. When students use these 33 cards and shuffle through them, they will practice each of their pieces so many different ways and will begin to see some great results. I have included a detailed explanation of each practice trick, so parents can help at home and you can ensure that students understand each of the strategies.

My Practice Tricks Pack also includes some fun Piano Practice Bingo cards, where students can try to fill in their practicing cards during the week. Each trick they use is a space on their card; they can try to clear a row or column each day and an entire card in a week.

Also included are some adorable Practice Trick Stickers that you can place on your students’ music to assign specific practice strategies for specific sections. The PDF is included in the pack and you just need some Avery #4221 round labels to print them on.

  

I hope that this adorable and fun resource can help your students become AWESOME practicers and make some really exciting progress!

Visit The Playful Piano Shop to learn more about and purchase the Practice Tricks Pack!

 

 

 

Jennifer Boster

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