Excel Music - Serving Tampa, New Tampa & Wesley Chapel


Music Practice Motivation

I keep thinking that I should write an article about practicing, but I never feel like it. And therein lies the problem! How do we motivate ourselves and others to practice?

First, remember that if you make this a chore or a punishment, there is no hope for the student. And no matter how brilliant your teacher may be, your music lesson only occupies a mere 30 to 60 minutes a week. This means that the rest of the week is up to the student. Practice should be a part of your daily routine. If the student is quite young (not just young at heart), five or ten minutes is probably enough.

If your child is the student, I wish to remind you of the first time they attempted to "fix" or "build" something as a nice surprise while Mommy was out of the room. At first, I implore you not to let them work alone.

Start on the drive home. Ask them what their goal is for the week, and what techniques the instructor

recommended to achieve those goals. This way, they will learn to focus and structure their lessons. A good practice plan should include:

  • A warm-up
  • Practicing scales
  • Running over the last song practiced
  • Working on any new material assigned - try to master the challenging parts first. Remember to practice the difficult passages slowly. Repeating the same mistake over and over will not correct the errors.
  • Ending with a favorite piece that's been mastered.

Randomly drop in on practice sessions and have them outline their goals. When you hear your child playing something correctly, remember to praise them. And if you hear them struggling, sympathize with them and suggest that they try it over a few times. Always try to be gently encouraging. If they continue to practice a section that already sounds great, remind them that they could be done practicing sooner if they concentrate on the aspects that they haven't mastered. As students

become more autonomous with their practice, helping regularly can be downgraded to being available.

Try not to be intimidated if you have no musical training to fall back on. You can focus on other aspects. Ask questions. Your child will delight in teaching you. How do they fit that flute together? What's the highest note they can play? Which scale do they hate the most and why? Ask these questions often - at the supermarket, in the car, at dinner. Most children want to be the center of your attention and if music gets a positive response, a large part of the practice battle is already won.

Now top it off with a little bit of well-timed enthusiasm. Tell them how excited you are that they are learning so quickly. Why, you're certain that they'll be able to play your favorite piece by high school. You can't believe how quickly they're getting through that new book. Gush over their new instrument. And if they "overhear" you praising them to others, your new "street cred" will have a tremendous impact on them.

But what if you're the student? Well, good luck with that.

- Sheri Thrasher

As published in the New Tampa News, 2007. Sheri Thrasher is a co-owner of Excel Music, professional vocalist, published author and lifelong artist.

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- The Art of Piano: What's in a Name?
- Guitarists Can't Read Music
- String Care and the Ever-Changing Weather
- Singer's Health and Fitness; Helpful Tips for Singers
- Musical Motivation - It's Time to Practice!
- Music for the Senior Student
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- Finger Gymnastics: Advance Practice Tips for Guitar
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Press Articles
- Tune Yourself Up - by Robert Yaniz - New Tampa News, September 2006
- Excel Music Owners Share The Joy Of Music With New Tampa - by Melissa O'Brian - New Tampa Neighborhood News, May 2007
- Excel Music: The Art of Teaching Students One Note at a Time - by Alicia Pack - New Tampa & Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News, September/October 2011
- Tony Coleman, Drummer for Blues' Great BB King at Excel Music - by Sheri Thrasher - The Advisor, February 2012