I wish I could be a fly on the wall in my piano students’ practice rooms. I wish I could see what actually happens. I’m sure the experience would be eye opening (or eyes opening… flies have thousands after all).
I don’t doubt that my students practice. In fact, I know that my students practice. But what is not always so clear, is how they practice.
For many young piano students, practice is more or less a run through of their pieces. But effective piano practice is so much more than that! Effective piano practice requires a clear and concise practice routine that is followed every single time. Home piano practice should have structure, just as a piano lesson has structure.
But teaching kids how to structure home practice can feel like pulling teeth. So instead, my students and I have been building cute little DIY Home Practice Planners to teach them the different activities they should do each and every time they sit down at their pianos to practice. Interested in making one? Here’s how…
How To Make A Washi Tape Home Practice Planner
If you want your littlest piano students to practice often and effectively, not only do you have to show them how to practice, but you have to help them take ownership of their practice. By building their own DIY Home Practice Planner your piano students will be way more motivated to take practice action than if you simply hand them a ready-to-print practice checklist.
Step 1: What You Will Need…
To build a Washi Tape Home Practice Planner you will need washi tape, popsicle sticks, a black-tipped felt pen, scissors, card stock (or a laminated piece of paper), post-it notes, a stapler and our practice routine labels found here (or your own if you have different needs).
Here are some pictures of what you’ll be making. It’s a 6-pocket chart that your students keep beside their piano at home. Each pocket is labeled with a practice task. Your popsicle sticks become adorable “practice pals” with the addition of some washi tape and some imagination – you can do animals, people, aliens… you name it! The Practice Pals move from pocket to pocket as each task is completed.
Step 2: How To Explain It
With your students, discuss the 6 home practice tasks are listed on our practice routines labels that you printed during Step 1. These include:
- Read Lesson Notes: Read over the practice tasks for the week
- Technical work: This includes scales, TEDDtales, triads, warm-ups etc.
- Focus on Rhythm: Play their assigned pieces with a focus on the rhythm (for my students this means to do this)
- Focus on Expression: Play their assigned pieces with a focus on phrasing, dynamics and articulation
- Pick 4 Measures: Choose 4 measures that were difficult and/or needed extra attention and spend extra time on those.
- Review: Choose 2 “old” pieces and review them.
Step 3: How To Build It
Working with your students, build the Washi Tape Home Practice Planner together. Rather than explain the process in writing, I’ve included a quick little video below where you can watch me put on my “crafty hat”. Feel free to modify the craft as needed to include the practice tasks that suit your studio. This makes a fabulous group piano party activity too!
Step 4: How To Use It
Using it is simple. At home, your students tape the practice planner to a visible location near their piano and place their “Popsicle Practice Pal” in the first pocket. Their practice session then begins with the task listed on this pocket. Upon completion of that task, your students move their Popsicle Practice Pal to the next pocket and complete the corresponding labelled task. Your students then repeat this process until their practice pals reach the final pocket… signalling an end to the home practice session.
Piano Practice Is Easier With Motivating Music!
Effective practice becomes SO much easier when your piano student has motivating repertoire to practice. PianoBookClub makes this easy by sending you a brand new book full of music every month for just $8! Practice routines will never become stale with the addition of exciting new repertoire! Check it out here.