It’s pretty safe to say that our biggest struggle as piano teachers is getting students to practice frequently and efficiently. It’s also pretty safe to say that most piano teachers own an inordinate amount of post-it notes 😉
When brainstorming new ways to inspire and assist my students in practicing over the summer, my eyes fell on my massive stockpile of post-it notes… and I decided to see what I could do with them to improve home piano practice.
Check out the 5 ways I’m now using post-it notes to help my students practice the piano more often and more efficiently…
5 Ways To Use Post-It Notes for Piano Practice Success
1. A Structured Break-Down Tool – Young piano students need help breaking tasks down into small pieces. They need step-by step instructions on exactly what to do to achieve success. While you can verbally and visually provide this in a lesson setting, at home students are often left to their own devices (which can result in frustration or errors).
Post-it notes to the rescue!
Post-It notes can easily provide a step-by-step narrative to help your young students know exactly what needs to happen each time they sit down to practice. Check out the image below – four stacked notes become a “break-down” booklet to follow with one task adorning each of the four post-it notes.
2. A Daily Goals Tool – Even piano students with the best of intentions can lose focus after two or three days of practicing alone at home. With post-it notes you can easily provide a focused daily outline for what you would like your students to accomplish each day of the week. Check out the image below for how I use post-it notes to provide daily goals for the week (different colors can represent different types of work… such as repertoire work, technical work, sight reading etc.)
3. An Effective Practice Habits Tool – In our podcast on practice efficiency, Dr. Christine Carter explained that the most effective way to practice involves “tricking our brain” – changing the order of material, mixing up routines, and learning pieces in small bits.
Post-it notes are an ideal way to help your students “trick their brains” while learning new repertoire. Simply label the measures that need work with the letters ABCD, and then provide several post-it notes with a variety of combinations. Ask your student to remove a post-it note after completing four repetitions of a particular measure combination. See example below.
4. A Practice Focus Tool – For very young piano students, a entire page of music can seem daunting. Sending a young child home with a task that feels insurmountable sets them up for a week of ineffective practice. With post-it notes however, music can be easily separated into manageable sections by blocking off areas that your students can skip over at home, covering up measures that still need your assistance to complete etc. This strategy prevents miscommunications with parents and makes music look much more approachable for students who are easily intimidated.
5. A Tool For Review – My goal for my students once they reach the end of a book? To be able to play *any* piece in their book at the drop of a hat. But this requires frequent review that has to find its place in their home piano practice routines.
A fun way to inspire review is by placing a silly sticker on a post-it-note and then hiding it in their book. Your students’ task is to search their book for the mystery post-it note and then practice and review the corresponding piece during the week. When the piece is perfected, the post-it note is removed and the sticker that is on the post-it note gets placed, instead, on the piece..
Where To Find The Perfect Practice Tool?
You never know which strategies are going to work for a particular child. What motivates one to practice may fall short with another. This is why I am constantly seeking out inventive home practice strategies. But… no matter what strategy I try, I always send home an activity from our resource “Shhh…Your Piano Teacher Thinks This is Practice” to go along with it! These 88 activities are motivating, hilarious and designed to teach effective piano practice strategies to your young piano students. Check it out here.