Workshops, Sight Singing
Hi there Blitzers,
In this month's newsletter I cover the first in our two part series on The 7 Deadly Practice Excuses.
Plus, the full run down on my upcoming Summer Piano Seminars, workshops and the BlitzBooks 10th Birthday Celebrations...
The 7 Deadly Practice Excuses
As with anything in life, excuses are sometimes genuine and sometimes a force of habit. For example, I have a friend who is always late, and there is always a good excuse for why. When she tells me her excuse it tends to waft over me like a familiar yet slightly irritating smell. In contrast, I have another friend who is always extremely prompt, and on the rare occasions she turns up late, I tune in with eagerness, excited to learn what disastrous events could have disrupted her carefully organised world. In her case the ‘excuse’ really does excuse her, whereas with the friend who is always late, the excuse rarely has any effect.
It is the same with music students who, week after week, turn up to lessons without having practised and always have a ‘valid’ excuse. Music teachers often get together and have outpourings of grief over this. Following is the first 4 of the top seven ‘Deadly Practice Excuses’. To students who use these a lot, beware... we’re on to you!
1. 'I was too busy'
In my opinion this is the no. 1 excuse for getting a music teacher offside. It’s not fun knowing you’re bottom priority! There are a million examples of excuses that come under the guise of ‘I was too busy’. Here are some well-worn favourites:
- I had a sleepover and then it was my birthday
- We had visitors from overseas and I couldn’t practice while they were there
- I had lots of homework
The problem with all of these excuses is that it becomes clear to the teacher there is no routine (see Deadly Practice Excuse no. 1) and that music practice is always the first thing to go when the timetable gets busy. This lack of commitment can be very deflating!
2. 'I had exams'
Naturally the pressure of school mounts up from time to time, but in a well-organised household this should cause only a brief hiccup. There is no reason to completely abandon music practise for weeks at a time – simply reduce it a little to balance the work load. I have had some students do no practice for 3 weeks in a row, using the following excuses:
- My school exams are in 1 week
- My school exams are this week
- My school exams were last week (and I needed a rest)
Sometimes a second instrument is being learned and students have a music exam coming up on that instrument. It is of course perfectly understandable that the ‘first’ instrument will take a hit in terms of practice time, but again, once this develops into a regular excuse, the teacher of the first instrument starts to smell a rat… and more often than not, upon contacting the parents, finds out that the same excuse was being used on the other teacher!!!
3. I couldn't find my books
This classic disorganisation can be solved by having a bag dedicated to music books that comes to lessons and stays near the instrument in between lessons. I do understand that things go missing from time to time, but how is it that the books go missing the day after the lesson and miraculously resurface on the day of the next lesson?
I tell my students that it is not acceptable to let any more than one day go by without contacting me to ask if they may borrow some music until theirs turns up. Since I can easily be reached by email/home phone/mobile phone/fax/sms/facebook/twitter/personal visit, this excuse will never fly with me.
4. 'I forgot I had to practise that'
Sadly, many students try this excuse only to be ‘sprung’ when shown the clearly written instructions in their exercise book. I tell them that I do not write things down just to practise my handwriting!
From time to time, I become so caught up in the wonderful hands-on imparting of knowledge in a lesson that nothing will actually get written down in the ‘what to do for next week’ exercise book. This leads to the classic variation of Deadly Practice Excuse no. 4, which is ‘You didn’t write anything down’. However, most students have a thing called a memory, and this memory is designed for the purpose of recalling recent events, such as what was covered in the lesson. If too many days go by before the practice takes place, the memory may fail. Once again this goes back to Deadly Practice Excuse number 1.
(At this point I’d like to say that if parents can sit in on the lesson and be the ‘scribe’, it saves an enormous amount of lesson time and leads to excellent following up at home!)
We'll conclude our 7 Deadly Practice Excuses next month...
To your music education,
PS: I've just sent out my snail mail newsletter - if you would like a copy please reply to this email with your postal address.
PPS: Make sure you read my BlitzBitz blog - where I regularly discuss music theory, upcoming workshops and new downloads.
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Summer Piano Seminars
We've just announced our January Summer Piano Seminar series for Brisbane, Adelaide and Orange!
Join us for a brilliant day of professional development where you will learn new techniques for fostering happy and successful students.
PLUS: A champagne gourmet lunch to Celebrate BlitzBooks' 10th Birthday!
BONUS: all attendees receive a Blitz Birthday Showbag with lots of goodies including a FREE copy of How to Blitz Sight Reading!
BlitzBooks is turning 10
Plus: This coming January BlitzBooks will celebrate its 10th birthday. Huge celebrations are planned in the form of specials, prizes, giveaways and champagne cocktail parties! Your local music store will have more information and we’ll keep you posted with all the happy events.
I had great fun presenting my session entitled 'The Inherited Student' at the recent 'Refresh and Recharge' conference run by MTA NSW.
I’ll be presenting this same session in January at the VMTA’s upcoming Summer Conference 'Bach to the Future'. More details about this can be found at www.vmta.org.au
Ross Hamiton's Music Education Resources
This is a great resource for students who are in need of analyses of particular pieces for their piano exams. Check it out.
Australian Music Schools Blog
As I mentioned last month, my good friend Michelle Madder from Australian Music Schools has started blogging about all things music related on her AMS Director's Blog. Check it out.
Got a recommendation?
Got something worth sharing? Please email me with your recommendations and I'll add them in to our next newsletter.
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