Saturday, April 18, 2009

John Graham on Practicing

John Graham has written an interesting article about practicing piano as part of his new teaching website. A colleague of mine at the Royal Conservatory, John pulls no punches--he emphasizes that even at the start of a course of study in music, there has to be a commitment to regular practice times in order for any benefits to show:
If you are the type of person that cannot tolerate repetition, piano is certainly not for you. Consider other forms of enrichment. Adults learn motor skills much slower than children do and sometimes require more determination to succeed. Without the repetition, a given piece can take months, sometimes years to learn, even then usually prepared to a mediocre standard. The lessons become tedious for both the teacher and student as there is little variety. The student has to learn to do this routine work independently. They have to learn how to practice. This is part of what I teach. Proper habits and approach to the instrument is critical and must be established from the onset.
John's article might be worthwhile to show to parents of potential students in order to get parents on board in the teaching process, as @aferomckinney points out.

Practicing by John Graham

Previously on the Collaborative Piano Blog:

Build a Regular Practice Schedule Part 1
Build a Regular Practice Schedule Part 2
Goal Setting Part 1: Short Term Goals
Goal Setting Part 2: Medium Term Goals
Goal Setting Part 3: Long Term Goals

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the mention, Chris.

    I really think John Graham hits the nail on the head here, and you're right about no pulled punches. Such candor! Maybe this article should be sent out to potential students as part of the interview process, before lessons even begin. ?

    In my studio, lessons for 1st- and 2nd-year students (really even beyond that) tend to focus a lot on HOW to practice, to the point that it sometimes feels like spoon-feeding. It can be tedious, indeed!

    We do set short- and long-term goals with many performance opportunities throughout the year, including Guild Auditions in May for every student. I think this helps.

    In general, I hope for my students to move away from the "good enough" mentality that I see so often, and really strive to be active learners in the process. Teaching listening skills and getting students out to hear concerts and recitals seems to be motivating for a lot of them.