Take 5 – taking a break. From time to time you just need to sit back, relax and reflect. Around here we’re going to try and do this on Fridays. Of course, if it’s no longer Friday, you’re still allowed to come here, and comment about your week.
Every so often, a theme pops up in my teaching. I mean like I end up talking about the same things with multiple students. Sometimes I just get on a kick about one topic of another. Sometimes it’s purely coincidental, and sometimes it’s absolutely Anna-made (once, a boyfriend’s niece thought I was a cartoonist because when he was saying “animated,” she was hearing “Anna-made-it.”).
This week, Anna-made-it. We’re all still working on getting back into the school habits – waking up early, doing homework, going to after school activities. Getting back in the practicing saddle is just another back to school routine to get into again, and I always work very closely with my students on their practice habits, all year long.
I’m a big fan of meeting kids where they’re at, and then traveling forward together. Sometimes I think this comes across as me being too easy, but I am not in the habit of forcing kids to do anything. No life-long learning ever happens that way. That’s not to say I don’t push my kids to be AWESOME, but I like it better when they feel they are in the passenger seat with the map as opposed to just sitting in the back looking out the window. So our first week back, the goal was just to practice. Just do it! Just get there! Sometimes that is the hardest step. And I’m happy to report that many of my students seem to have plenty of time to practice so far this year, getting to play 4-6 times a week. (We’ll see how that’s going in a month or two.)
The following week they had to actually time themselves when they practiced. A few years ago, this was a harder task. Now, between my students being older and either inheriting an old iPhone or getting a new one, almost every single one of my students has an iPhone or iPod with which I know they can time themselves. I have to say, some of my students are already in good practicing habits, but some are just not sitting down for long enough, so this week their assignment was to practice for a minimum amount of time that I prescribed and then they had to keep working UNTIL THEY WERE SATISFIED WITH THAT DAY’S PROGRESS.
This is probably one of the biggest things I am trying to instill in my students this year. It isn’t about the minutes practiced, or the note speller pages completed, it’s about whether or not you are happy with the progress you’ve made, whether it is a small accomplishment like finally practicing for ten uninterrupted minutes or for something big like finally getting through the toughest section of the piece. It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality, and I’m trying to get them to realize that it is their decisions that affect their progress.
Yes, I absolutely believe that these life lessons can be taught to ten year olds. You’d be surprised. Or maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe I’m wrong. But we’ll see. Kids are pretty awesome people, and I’d like them to realize that they’ve got the ability to choose their own happiness.
So what did you accomplish this week, big or small?