“Take Chances. Make Mistakes. Get Messy!”

Can you guess who said this quote? It was a character in one of my favorite series of books: The Magic School Bus. I can still hear Mrs. Frizzle’s, from the cartoon, saying these words. Mrs. Frizzle’s advice is as good for music students as it was for her class.

Take chances.   Musicians have to take lots of chances. A complete list would be very long! Performing, playing from memory, sight reading, duet playing are all common ways of taking chances. The great thing is, musicians of all ages have other kinds of chances, too. We have the chance to connect with others by sharing  our music with our families and friends or even strangers.  Music is a chance to connect with the community.

Make Mistakes. Mistakes happen. Everyone makes mistakes, even in performances. The best mistake is one that we can hear. If students recognize their mistakes, then they are one step closer to fixing them. Being able to identify and fix trouble spots is an important skill. It’s always okay to make mistakes, especially if we can learn something from them.   Mistakes are experiments, and experiments teach us about the world.

Get messy! Getting messy is important to practice and discovery. Perhaps one student’s way of getting messy is to improvise. Another might like to try playing by ear. Playing duets, performing for others, composing… there are so many great ways to ‘get messy’ as a music student. All of it is part of the fun!  Students who get messy in these ways are showing their enthusiasm for the instrument, and learning new skills in the process.

The Magic School Bus is a wonderful series because it was so much fun.  Mrs. Frizzle’s words reflect the enjoyment that can be found in the learning process.

Spring practicing advice

Spring is here, and that means lots of musical events for students!  It can be a tricky time of year to find practice time, so here are a few tips to help students keep up the hard work work as Music Festival and exams get closer.

A regular schedule

A great way to make sure practicing happens regularly is to have a special time of day set aside, and to use the same time all practicing days of the week.  If we know that a particular time of day is especially for music, that can make it easier to do.

Practice often

Practicing a little every day (I recommend at least five days a week) is another great way.  Even if you only have five minutes, that’s enough time to practice some technique, work on a tricky passage, or practice perform a piece.  Being consistent about playing every day is really helpful, and keeps memories from lesson and previous practice sessions fresh.

A little help from my friends (or parents)

Having someone there can be helpful.  Parents can get involved by being around when the child is practicing, so they feel less isolated.  Positive reinforcement is best encouragement.  Do not use practicing as a punishment for other activities in their lives.  Let them know you appreciate the hard work they do when they practice.  Sit in on a pretend  performance, and get other supportive family members to do the same.

Keep an eye on the blog, and your emails, for updates.  Happy March everyone!