Sunday, June 23, 2013

3 Great Books for improving your At-Home Practicing

Practice Practice Practice.  After teaching for 10+ years, I'm finally starting to realize that when I say that I "teach piano" what I'm really doing is "teaching how to practice."  I'm going to try this year to avoid saying things like "just take this home and practice it this week, and show me what you come up with!"  Instead I'm going to say something like "measures 8-12 need a round of Bug Spotting followed by a game of Metronome Madness until you can play it 3 times in a row at 92."

Practicing is a lifelong skill that is developed through mindful attention to detail. It is a process of decision making, of strategy, of careful listening and evaluation. It's a wonderful gift to give our children - the skill of how to better yourself! As parents and educators, isn't that the goal?  Teach 'em to fish!

Here are a few books I have in the studio that students are welcome to page through during lessons or borrow for the week.  If you'd like to grab a copy for yourself, they make great gifts!

Practiceopedia by Philip Johnston.  This hefty book is the encyclopedia of great ideas for making practice fun and efficient.  Although it's a higher price tag, this is an awesome resource!  The writing is funny and interesting, and the ideas are sound and easy to implement. I love that he makes practicing piano into life-and-death drama! Philip makes it easy to reference ideas that fix common problems, ie "not wanting to practice" or "managing deadlines." Great for breaking a practice funk!

Not Until You've Done Your Practice by Philip Johnston and David Sutton.  If you don't want to spring for the Practiceopedia, this is a great option!  Same great ideas, just not as detailed in the description. This is one the kids can read themselves and enjoy - there are some great graphics to complement each practice strategy. Very easy to implement today!

The Piano Student's Guide to Effective Practicing, a Hal Leonard publication.  This is a full sized tri-fold brochure outlining some excellent practice strategies to use at home. This is a great reference catalogue if you need a few quick ideas for a specific problem or if you get stuck!