Monday Musings: Practice Makes Perfect

Say it Rah-shay By Sep 23, 2013 No Comments

mondaymusings (1) When The Bee and I were moving, people gave us random things. One of the most random things we possess, which I love, is an upright piano given to me by a colleague. Back in high school I played musical instruments, the clarinet and the bass, but always coveted the 88 keys of the piano. Lessons were not available in school and as a teen I had no idea how to even begin the search for them. I can hunt and peck, play a mean Axel F but never quite mastered more than that. So with the addition of a piano to our household, I voluntold The Bee that she had to take lessons and, remarkably, with little fuss, she agreed.


We started lessons with Carrie, a volunteer from the library and The Bee was thrilled. The Bee would come home and her fingers would dance across the keys, plucking away at songs. Some days, with no prompt from me, she would have at it, sitting at the piano for almost an hour practicing scales, playing little songs, making up melodies. When we transferred schools I learned that her school offered lessons during her library period (as a library chick I felt some way about that) but she was excited as her lessons with Carrie stopped (we just couldn’t quite get it together with scheduling.


Fast forward to present day and practice is a dirty word in our house. Each week Sister Anna gives The Bee an assignment but The Bee will either halfheartedly pick at the keys, rush through practice or “forget” to practice. She’s to practice for at least 20 minutes when she’s with me and on her keyboard at her dad’s house and it sometimes takes at least 20 minutes to get her to the keyboard! And her practice…she will play (a relative term) each song once, maybe twice and rush on to the next. “I’m trying to finish the book!” she declares as she plays a tune.


Way back when I was playing my instrument, I can remember having to practice scales, practice fingering and bowing. I was older but probably every bit as …teen as my kid is now. My mom may or may not have insisted I practice although I do recall that I got a grade for playing an instrument and that was one reason that I was practicing as mush as I did.


I really don’t want to be Tiger Mom; I am not trying to channel Mama Rose but I do think my kid should practice and it should be more than just the fun stuff. Technique is not something that people just happen to get and some learning must occur before the fun stuff begins. So, as many a person does, I crowdsourced Facebook and got some good advice:


T, who plays an instrument in an orchestra, said:

Consider agreeing to split the 20 minutes. 10 min on technique, 10 on fun stuff (or 15/5). My husband finally had to explain to me why learning technique is important and basic gist is this: the technique helps make playing easier in the long run. So, while I hate scales, I don’t mind etudes, but I HAVE TO get to the orchestra stuff which I find fun. Also, I find that if I spend all my time perfecting the fingerings, scales, whatever, I just get frustrated because even though I know it won’t happen the first time, I want to get it done now (but that’s me). My ideal practicing time is this: 15 minutes on scale work and crisp sound, 15 minutes on etudes/exercises for fingering, and 30 minutes on orchestra or fun stuff (which for me is perfecting the Teleman Concerto). I aim for an hour at this point. Does it happen? Not all the time, but I wish I’d figured this out a long time ago.

B had this advice: 

She needs to practice at the least 30 minutes a day. The most 45 min to an hour. She should always start with scales then move from easy to hard songs working one her posture and fingers. Is she learning Suzuki piano or regular? I told my kids once they started an instrument they could not stop till they were 18 it is an investment that they will see through. So even though my daughter hates when I watch her practice she practices religiously. And not that she has seen the benefits of playing and playing well (ie music scholarship for college) she is doing the dang thing. When I could afford piano lesson from my boy he used to balk a bit but he practiced. Just put your foot down and be like Yul Brenner in Moses “So let it be written so let it be done!” LOL


I had a fellow commentor commiserate who has her own challenges with her daughter so it makes me not feel so alone. I know that as Mom it is up to me to be the authority, to guide her but if we can do it without tears that would be just swell.


Help me please! If you have any tips, tricks or ideas to make practicing music fun, I’m open to hear them.

Here’s to a future Lady Gaga or Alicia Keys,



I am mom, daughter, sister, yarn lover, word lover, crazy cat lady and library chick. Find me with book or with hook and a hot cuppa.

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