> January Mid-Year Assessments
> Getting Back into Practicing
January Mid-Year Assessments
As you may recall, back in November, I handed out progress reports to all students. Those reports were actually the first in a line of four assessments I have planned for the year. Every nine weeks, I will alternate between providing a written progress report and administering a performance assessment. On Saturday, February 1st, in place of a master class, I will hold student assessments in my studio (there will be no master class in January). This simply means that each student will come in for an individual time slot to play their scales, etudes and songs for me in a more formal, adjudication setting. I may ask another experienced musician to sit in and provide his or her objective feedback as well which could add more value to the experience--but this is to be decided. Afterwards, adjudication sheets will be emailed to parents, then, at the following lesson, I'll take 10-15 minutes at the beginning or end (which ever is best for mom and/or dad) to meet with parents and students together to go over them and set new goals together. My purposes for the assessments are to 1) Provide a goal point for completing current scales and pieces, 2) Provide a communication opening for parents and students and 3) Use the assessments as a starting point for the establishment of end-of-year goals for each student. I'll be putting together a packet for each student with all of the information and dates needed for the assessment to be handed out at the next lesson!
Getting Back into Practicing
Though I'm pretty sure my teachers in school never agreed with me (ahem, Mr. Grammatico), I always viewed school vacations as time off from "practicing" my instruments. I played for fun, but stopped working on the educational material for a while. Well, maybe I took it to the extreme back then but one thing I have learned about breaks is that they are very rejuvenating in many ways. The desire to achieve will get you through all kinds of unpleasant tasks but when you get worn down, that desire can drag a little and leave you unwilling to apply yourself. I hope everyone took a little time to refresh over Christmas--though I do hope you found yourself playing for fun now and then!
Well, it's time to kick it back in gear! And what better motivation than a performance assessment in a few weeks? Most of the time, I say start with the hard parts, but when you're easing back into the grind, I say start with the pieces you can play well. Go through one of your old books from the beginning, and enjoy the amount of progress you have made so far. You might be surprised. Then, start reviewing your scales and arpeggios from the beginning of this year until now. Be a stickler about these: play firmly, with even tone across the scale, and don't settle for a scale that had corrections throughout (use ten pennies: if you can play the scale ten times in a row without making corrections then you can move on). Then address your current pieces. Do not expect them to be where you left them if you've taken some time off. Instead, go backwards a couple of steps, like to hands separately or to playing hands together one beat at a time with a beat of rest after each. Take them slowly and bring up the tempo a little more each day. Still, make it your goal in all of this to be able to play them better at your next lesson than your last lesson ~ to some degree.
Sometimes the best way to get back to good practice habits is to be a little sneaky about it. Make it fun for yourself through using games and throwing in some pieces you can play well and you might just find yourself joyfully embracing your daily practice routine again. :-)