No Practice Required

Posted on May 2, 2019 in Featured, Piano Camp, Planning

This post includes the original post at www.missdorla.com

Week by week. Year after year. Students arrive at their piano lesson without practicing their assigned pieces.

Week by week. Year after year. Piano teachers try to find ways to entice students to practice.

Piano students are “let go” from piano studios because they do not practice.

Households are stressed because piano students do not practice.

Piano teachers are loosing students because parents are tired of weekly messages saying “Johnny needs to practice .”

On the other hand…

Playing sports is so much fun! Put on your t-shirt, join your team, play the game together, go home.

Next week? Repeat!

How many of these players will be drafted by a major league team? less than 2.9%.

How many will have a career in sports? Probably a few more.

How many will love the game for life and dabble in it when gathering with friends? I bet 99% of them will at least still enjoy the game.

What does this have to do with piano lessons?

Learning to play the piano has a tradition of discipline, repetition and loneliness. Students may love to come to their lesson every week, it may even be fun; but the daily practice at home… that’s another story.

Is there another way to learn to play the piano and love it?

Here is my vision.

Piano lessons are so much fun! Grab your music bag, join your team, play the piano, go home!

Next week? Repeat!

How many of these pianists will pursue the career of a concert pianist?

Maybe one.

How many will have a career in music? Maybe a few more.

How many will love the game of music for life and dabble in it when gathering with friends? I bet 99% of them will at least still enjoy music for the rest of their lives.

Do you see what I see? It’s a beautiful vision of my students  making music at the piano with others. For life.

What does this look like at my studio?

  • Group Piano Lessons. What is so great about group lessons. Print this as a reminder.
  • Expectations based on family needs and studio values.
  • Joyful Learning Environment.

So, what does this have to do with practicing?

Everything.

If you serve a community of families that want to give their children many opportunities to foster their physical and mental growth, they are probably involved in many extracurricular activities. Piano is just one of many.

Providing a place to learn music at the piano that does not require students to go home and spend an X amount of time improving what was introduced in class, has been my goal for the past year.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. There are mindsets, expectations and traditions that are hard to break. But it can be done.

Is there anyone else that is doing something similar?

Share in the comments!

8 Comments

  1. Aprill
    May 4, 2019

    I absolutely agree and also use this type of mindset within my studio. The benefits to children learning how to play an instrument and learning a Lifetime Love Of Music far outweigh the benefits of being able to perform a piece perfectly. Do I want them to practice regularly each day at home? Do I want them to perform each of their pieces perfectly? Of course I do! But as a music teacher of 18 years it is rare for that to happen consistently with most of the students. Even with all the practice incentives I provide. After years of being frustrated in trying to get my students to practice regularly, I finally realized I was missing the point. I changed my viewpoint and it’s been working much better for everyone, including me. Thanks for the post!

    Reply
    • Dorla
      May 6, 2019

      I love connecting with other teachers who understand this idea. Thanks for sharing your love of music with your students!

      Reply
      • Linda Poelzer
        May 9, 2019

        How do your students progress without practice? Kids who enjoy sports generally meet several times a week—for an hour each time. My students come once a week for a group lesson of an hour. Sport participation and enjoyment, like piano is always elevated by increasing skills. We have a lot of hockey in our area—and those who put on their skates only once a week never enjoy the game. I’m close to offering a “no/practice” group for some students—but I have some reservations. How do your students improve?

        Reply
        • Dorla
          May 10, 2019

          Hi Linda!
          Good point you make about the kids that meet several times a week for sports. Here in my area even though they meet (elementary age) usually it is for a game and not for learning skills. Plus, they do not go home and practice what they know. Does that make sense?

          I do not require my group piano students to practice at home. I do ask them to play their songs each day, but the practicing is done in class. Those who do not open their books and play at home, benefit from the ensemble, theory, rhythm reading, scales, note reading, and music history we do in class. Their piano skills are definitely not progressing as fast as I would like, but the parents understand the benefits of music education, and are pleased.
          Parents also know that if they want better results, they could demand that they practice at home!
          Private students are required to practice.
          I hope I didn’t make it more confusing for you…

          Reply
  2. Mindy
    June 5, 2019

    This is my vision, too! I’ve been seeing tremendous benefits from the Recreational Music Making approach with my adults and it’s been enough to make me think I need to adopt the same model for my groups of kids. I’ve noticed that when we work on songs during class, once it clicks for the student, that student goes home and plays it all week long, without any cajoling from the parent! So that’s what I strive for in each class. It’s not perfect but it is a lot more fun!

    Reply
    • Dorla
      June 26, 2019

      Yay! So glad to find others who have the same vision! Let’s keep talking about it and continue to make music with our students. The benefits will be awesome!
      Dorla

      Reply
  3. Heidi Lueck
    August 7, 2019

    When you said you have students practice in class, do you hold classes daily or several times each week? I am confused by your response to Linda Poelzer. Thank you!

    I teach RMM classes to retirees. It is such a blast and the highlight of my week.

    Reply
    • Dorla
      August 14, 2019

      Heidi, my students come to the studio only once a week and that is probably the only time they sit at the piano to play! Even though they all have a piano at home, they do not practice. So… part of their lesson time (5-10 min) might be spent practicing, learning a new song, reviewing on their own. Hope this is clear!

      Reply

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