Following up from last week’s post, here are some more ideas for using the Hoffman Academy Piano Practice Chart:
Make a Practice Journal
Print out several copies of the practice chart and put them together in a small three-ring binder or folder with brads. This journal could also include some blank staff paper for composing songs.
Start Each Session with Good Piano Posture Review
Check out Lesson 5 for help with piano posture. Parents can read Developing Good Piano Postureand Top Ten Tips for Good Piano Posture for more ideas.
Feel the Finger Power
Just like you do stretching exercises to warm up at the start of a workout or before playing a sport, piano players need to get their fingers moving at the start of a practice session. Finger power exercises, like pentascales and hand-over-hand chords, build strength, agility, and coordination. Several lessons in each unit teach these exercises.
Practice a New Song
Sing the song without playing. Move your hands up and down with the melody as you sing. Next, play the song while singing at least four times. I sometimes like to ask my students to “play their age,” playing the song once for each year of their age. Or, for more fun, try a practice game.
Review Previous Songs
Play each of the songs you’ve already learned in your current unit. Here’s a list of the songs from each unit:
- Unit 1: Hot Cross Buns, Five Woodpeckers, Frog in the Middle, Chocolate, Listen for Bells
- Unit 2: Mouse in the House, Rain Come Wet Me, Let Us Chase the Squirrel, Who’s That?, Dinah, The Wild Horses
- Unit 3: Love Somebody, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Silver Birch Tree, I Have a Dog, Oranges & Lemons
This is a great time to use the Practice CD tracks from the Lesson Materials. You can also try a “Super Challenge,” like playing with your eyes closed, singing solfege or letter names of notes as you play, or switching the hands’ jobs.
Piano Fun Time
At the end of practice, have a little fun. Make up your own song or finger power exercise. Play your favorite song from the lessons a few extra times and experiment with changing octaves or adding a new part. This is also a good time to do an activity page from the Lesson Materials.
Consistency and Incentives
Some children find it rewarding enough just to be able to cross off boxes on a checklist when they’re done with each item. Others like to be earning a favorite activity or a treat. Whatever else you choose as incentives for consistent practice, help your child realize that as they complete each day, each week, and each two-week practice chart, their skills are growing. Let them know how pleased you are with how hard they’re working and how much they’ve learned. That’s what practice is for!