As students settle into the new school year, daily violin practice may seem like a daunting task as families struggle to meet all the demands on their time – homework, sports, religious activities, family life – and it can feel overwhelming to fit violin or viola practice into such a busy day. Here are some tips for making music practice a joyful part of your day.
1. When it comes to learning and mastering an instrument, frequency of practice is more important than the length of the practice session. This holds especially true for young children. Everyone has busy schedules, but it’s better to get the violin out of the case for 10 minutes than to skip days and attempt to cram later in the week. It then becomes easier to rationalize skipping the next day, etc. When students are practicing daily, their fingers and arms become stronger, and they are more excited to practice the next day because they hear themselves improving!
2. Practice the violin at the same time every day. This creates a habit like waking up, brushing teeth, eating dinner, etc. When your child knows that practicing always happens at the same time, more time is spent playing the violin instead of negotiating when it will happen. You may find that practicing violin after dinner is a great way to spend undistracted time your child. Perhaps your child is more alert early in the morning and is able to focus better before school. What’s important is that practicing becomes an enjoyable part of your family’s daily routine, not something extra and stressful that must be squeezed in.
3. LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN! I can’t stress enough the importance of listening to classical music. This element is the easiest to incorporate into busy schedules, but it’s often the most overlooked. You can listen to music in the car, while your child is doing their homework, or during their bedtime routine.
4. Keep a practice log. For young students this could mean putting stickers next to each activity or song that they practice. For advanced violinists, this can take the form of a practice journal. Keeping track of exactly what was accomplished during each practice session helps students clarify how much time was spent on each task and whether that time was used productively. This also helps young violinists create an effective strategy for the following practice day.
5. Make practicing fun! Try to leave time in your practice session for improvisation and experimentation. Perhaps you create a new rhythm for your scales, practice an old piece with a new technique, or create your own composition. What’s important is that you get creative and have fun! Additionally, here is a list of fabulous ideas for turning violin practice into a game.