Our 30 Day Practice Challenge: In the Students' Words

Last time, I shared some of my observations and musings while my students and I participated in the 30 Day Practice Challenge. Now that most of them have completed the challenge, it’s time for my students to share their thoughts on practising every day for 30 days.

As they each completed the challenge, I asked them to answer a few questions. Some of them have graciously given permission for me to share their comments here so that other music students and music teachers can read them:

What was the easiest part for you about the challenge?

  • “Finding ways to practice in simple forms (fingering, theory, listening to pieces").”

  • “Technique: when I didn’t have time for my songs.”

  • “Being able to practice in a variety of forms: listening to music, drumming, tapping & piano.”

  • “I can do my own pieces.”

  • “The easiest part was doing theory the days I was busy.”

  • “It was easier to remember to practice because if I just do it everyday, it wouldn’t slip my mind.”

What was the hardest part for you about the challenge?

  • “Finding the time to practice everyday. Finding ways to practice differently than the norm.”

  • “Doing more than just technique everyday. LOL.”

  • “Getting time on the piano.”

  • “Never having a day off but after a while, I got used to it.”

  • “The hardest part was making sure I practice every day, even when I’m busy.”

  • “Actually doing it.”

  • Practicing every day.”

Has your playing changed since participating in the challenge? If so, how?

  • “I think so. At home practice, I definitely hear a difference.”

  • “I’ve been getting my technique and scales faster than I did last year.”

  • “Yes. I have prioritized music more & have been able to improve on my pieces.”

  • “It hasn’t.”

  • “Yes. I’m learning the notes faster and the practices aren’t as hard because I remember the notes from day to day.”

  • “Yes, since I played every day, my songs got better.”

  • “Reading music itself is easier.”

  • “It has changed because I feel that I’m finishing learning music pieces much faster than compared to last year. I feel that every time I notice I am getting better.”

Have you noticed or discovered anything interesting about your musical journey since starting this challenge? If so, what?

  • “How practicing every day really does help you improve faster.”

  • “Just that I’ve gotten my scales faster.”

  • “Yes, I feel more connected & aware of my music schedule.”

  • “I’ve been able to play more songs because I learn them faster and I don’t mind practicing as much because I know I’m earning something special at the end of the challenge.”

  • “Got bored faster, so [I] tried to find other things [to play].”

  • “I’m doing better than I was last year.”

Any other comments, questions or suggestions to make the practice challenge better next round?

  • “Maybe a free day in case you can’t practice (free space day).”

  • “Maybe setting alarms of when to practice.”

  • “It was fun.”

Musings from the Teacher’s Chair

There you have it. The comments should come as no surprise to performing artists, writers, and athletes. They should come as no surprise to scientists who have found a connection between myelination and learning.

However, I think it makes a much bigger impact on my students to see and hear how they have improved over the #30daysofpractice . It will make a bigger impact on my colleagues’ students to read what their peers learned, in their own words.

My students are well into Maestro’s 60 Day Practice Challenge, while I’m plugging away at the 100 Day Practice Challenge. In fact, one of my students is a day ahead of me in the challenge.

We talk more regularly about different ideas for those light practices, because let’s face it: practising every day for 60 days or 100 days seems like a really long time at the moment. I may need to remind them that if they are feeling under the weather, they can take a day off. I suspect that a few of my students are getting some light practice ideas from my practice log on the Studio’s Instagram:

I have heard a significant improvement in all of my students’ playing, especially in their technical skills. Ditto for my own. It’s delightful because we can spend more time during their piano lessons exploring their musical expression, bulletproofing skills, and performance savvy.

With fluency comes confidence. I have also noticed that even my shy students are more willing to be the “Instagram Star of the Day,” while some who don’t like performing are actually showing off for their friends at school.

I do hope they realize that practising is a journey. We trip and fall a lot in the early stages, and there’s some “two steps forward, three steps back” in the troubleshooting phase; but with regular practice - mindful practice - we reach those awesome moments more quickly.

Remind me next round to record clips when they start and finish the 100 Day Practice Challenge. I have a feeling that the second half of the school year is going to be full of awesome musical moments.

Special thanks to my students: Claire, Tanya, Erika, Henry, Kateri, Alexandra, P., and Anonymous for giving me permission to share their #30daysofpractice experience.