Summer Challenge

Monday, June 13, 2022 by Jennie Higgins | Practice

It is that time of year.  Everything is wrapping up for the school year, and kids are excited to be on summer holidays.  

But what does that mean for piano lessons?  I do encourage students to go through the summer to keep up their studies.  However, I do understand those who are away and will join once again in the fall. But regardless if you are going through the summer or not, it is so fun to pick a summer practice challenge. I know I am. 

Transfer or returning students are most welcome to take part of our summer practice challenge.  Just send me a quick email, and I would be happy to send the challenge of your choice to you. 

1. Sticker Dots Piano Project
- grap a packet of small coloured dot stickers from the dollar store, Walmart or wherever you can get them the cheapest.
- Play all of your music you have learned this year and follow the colour chart to see what dot you put on each song
- can be printed or just viewed to see the instructions

2. Practice for Penny
- Penny the whale is a cute story about a baby whale who is looking for her song to find her family.
- print the final page of the file for the cards. 
- students show your parents/friends/spouse/family where you have played up to so they can randomly place a "Penny the Whale" card in each one.
- each week, fine one card.  Write the date you practiced that song on the back of the card and leave it there.
- in the fall, show me what you have played each week and I will choose one to be Penny's song to find her family. 

3. Popsicle Practice Tracker
- we have done many of these over the year, and I probably will continue to send them.
- this one is the hardest one of all.  
- Print the second page of this one only. The first page is just the example page of how it will look when finished.
- 81 days of practice.  This needs to be started in June (now) until I see you again after labour day in the fall.
Remember, it's not how many times you practice, it's how many days you practice. 

I hope this helps to fill your summer with music. 🎶🎹
Mrs. Jennie

How to Practice When You're Busy

Tuesday, August 10, 2021 by Jennie Higgins | Practice

Today I would like to talk about practice.  Specifically practicing when you're busy.  

We've all been there.  We loved playing the piano when we first started.  It was new and exciting.  We had dreams of playing along to the songs on the radio, or playing in a band or in front of our friends and family.  We started our lessons with eagerness and excitement.  We practiced every day without fail.  Then that practice wasn't as easy as it was in the beginning.  Learning to read the notes got a little bit harder.  Like learning a whole other language.  But with my help (Mrs. Jennie, your teacher), it got easier to read the music.  But what about the practice? 

As life can get busy these days, practice can sometimes suffer.  Kids are getting busy again with school about to start or is starting. Other activities also taking up time.  Teens are busier with school work and exams and also extra activities.  Then there are my adult students; work, hobbies, your own kids to schedule, or just wanting to hang out with people again now that COVID restrictions have relaxed.  No matter where you are in your journey of this life, your time can eaten up by many things.  So what do we do to help us get time to practice the piano that we are learning and longing to play?

Here are some tips!

Number 1 tip!! A little bit of practice is better than no practice at all.
When my life is busy, I try to get in just a little bit of practice to build the habit. I fit in 10 minutes, sometimes only 5 minutes.
The other evening, I was waiting for my husband, David, to finish mowing the lawn so we could sit down and watch some TV before bed.  Even through it was 9:30 at night, I quickly went into the piano room and starting playing through my songs that I'm practicing. I have 5 songs right now that I am practicing.  I only got through 2 songs in about 5 minutes and David came inside. Only 5 minutes.  It wasn't much, but it made a difference.  When I practiced more the next morning, I noticed that the 2 songs I had played in those 5 minutes went better than the 3 songs that I didn't get to practice.  
If that little bit of time can help me, it can help you!

Tip number 2: Playing a song out of order!
So many of my students play our songs from the beginning to the end.  Over and over we play.  If there are too many mistakes, you get frustrated and start all over from the beginning.  Why doesn't this work?  
Well, think about it this way. You play from the beginning, get stuck and restart.  The beginning of the songs gets so much practice and that part of the song becomes better than the rest.  As you get a little bit further through your song, you get better.  But the beginning of the songs is getting greater.  But you never get to the end of the song without getting stuck.  Do you see it?  The end and the middle of the song isn't getting very much practice.  "But I want to play the whole song perfectly!" I hear from my students over and over. Yes, me too.  But let's break our songs into smaller parts.  
When you start your practice, play through the whole song.  Don't worry too much about mistakes.  Fix them as you go, but don't go back to the beginning.  You could circle the mistakes with a pencil and just keep playing through.  Once you are finished playing through the song, find the trickiest part.  Start there.  
If you are not sure where to start out of order, use some dice to roll a number and start on that measure number. This way is great fun. OR play from the end of the song and work your way to the beginning.  For example; start on the last line and play to the end.  Then start on the 2nd last line and play to the end.  And so on. 

There are many ways of mixing up your practice time.  But above all, practice makes us better musicians. And remember, don't practice till you get it right only one time.  Practice until you can't get it wrong. 

I look forward to helping you in your music journey. 

~~~ Mrs. Jennie Higgins