just three words


A practicing success today: Opie reviewed the notes from yesterday’s lesson before playing each piece. But we kind of cheated in how it was done.

Because of occasional balks and other practicing mishaps, I have been looking for outside help. One I found was the Calmer, Easier Music Practicing method from Noel Janis-Norton. A detailed review will have to wait, but one suggestion of this method is to have the student repeat — with parental prompting — the instructions of the teacher.

I’ve been mulling over how to implement this for quite a while now; the reception I envisioned if I asked Opie to repeat everything in response to my questions was not pretty. Not at all. I was stuck.

This morning inspiration finally struck. I talked to her way before practice time, explaining how I had a need to ensure that she remembered what was said at her lesson. That the only way I knew she had heard it that day was to say something, but I knew that she didn’t like me to nag at her. But what if she read the notes herself? She didn’t think highly of that idea, but then I realized — what if I summarized them so all she had to read were just three words? She agreed three words weren’t too much, and much better than nagging….

  • For D major scale, “loosen lips, nice full sound” condensed to “Loosen lips” (only two words!).
  • For all scales, “hold out last notes at end!” became “Hold last note.”
  • For Gavotta, “beat – practice with metronome; speed up tempo” shrank to “Metronome increase tempo.”
  • For Largo, “clap beat, say or speak or sing music” transformed to “Clap beat & squeak,” chosen after consulting with her about her preferred sound.

I wrote all the summaries on the same page as her assignment. She can see the original right there, but she doesn’t have to acknowledge it. I told her she can rewrite the summaries if she thinks I got things wrong.

When practice time rolled around, I reminded her about the need for her to verbally review the notes, and how a chunk of her practice reward* depended on doing this. She read each set aloud as she went through, and acted on most of them. Still not sure about those last notes on scales, but I have hope going forward. At least I know she is hearing the reminder before practicing.

*Yes, I bribe. With tiny marshmallows or m&ms.

1 thought on “just three words

  1. Pingback: TTOTD | how about oboe?

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