Using Music Practice Plans

It seems like my junior and senior high school students are becoming busier and busier. Last month, I dedicated an entire week to developing and experimenting with various practice plans for my students, depending upon their learning style and their schedule. These are two practice plans that my students and I developed to help them practice more efficiently:

Practice Plan #1: Rotating Practice Plans

Some students needed the more visually appealling list, while others were fine with a scribbled down list. The gist is that you divide your music assignment list into three different practice plans.

This is Emily's practice plan from last month:

Here is Claire's practice plan from last month:

This is a trick I learned at university: pair up a more difficult piece (or assignment) with an easier one. If you lump all the “not-so-fun” tasks into one day, that makes for a not-so-enjoyable and therefore, “I’m-not-going-to-practise-very-well” kind of day.

Most of my students alternate between Plans A and B.  Plan C is usually is the “I don’t have a lot of time” list.

Practice Plan #2: Practice Ideas Based on How Much Time You Have

This is meant to show students that you can have an extremely productive and focussed practice in under five-minutes. You simply adjust your Practice Plan based on the amount of time you have.

This is Wendy's practice plan from last month:

Note that that these are presented as "practice ideas". This particular group wanted the freedom to pick and choose what they were going to work on, choosing from this list:

My students and I have timed how quickly they can fix a trouble spot using some of the drills and drill combos from Maestro's Music Tricks, a gamer-inspired practice aid that they inspired me to create. The average seems to be three minutes, but some have been able to fix a trouble spot in under two.

The bottom line is that it’s not how much time you practise on your instrument for, but how you manage your practice time, and how often. You can save a lot of time in the long run if you have a practice plan and goals, and if you have ideas on how to reach them.