Music is a rewarding and lifelong journey that can begin at any time and place. Oftentimes the joys of music-making can be lost (for some!) by the dread of regular practicing.
I know our returning musicians are probably thinking about their private lessons for the year and (potentially) cramming in some last hours of practice time before Wednesday, September 14!
Please see below for a few simple practice tips for aspiring musicians of any age:
Drink water and take care of bodily health. It’s good to stay active, but also make sure you feel relaxed and centered before beginning practice time. This is important to make sure no injuries occur, as well as to ensure a productive session!
Warm up before practicing scales or repertoire. This could mean playing/singing long tones, taking deep breaths, or another warm-up technique given by your private instructor.
Slow down! It is common for musicians to practice tricky sections of music at an inappropriately fast tempo. When learning or practicing a new/challenging section, make sure to take the tempo down to a crawl. Then work your way up to the faster tempo.
Quality over Quantity. There are a lot of varying opinions about practice time. For an adult, 1 hour of great practicing is worth 4 hours of mindless practicing. Or for a younger student, 15-30 minutes of daily practicing could do the trick. If you have more questions about developmental appropriateness and practice time, feel free to reach out.
Be mindful of repetition. From an outside perspective, great practicing probably sounds like lots of repetition of various musical snippets of a piece. What the musician’s brain does, however, is practice getting one thing right (i.e. hand position or a tricky accidental note) and building on another element, in order to bring the piece closer to concert-ready.
JOY. What a great privilege and opportunity to have the chance to play beautiful music! Even when playing a scale, we can bring expression and joy to that by thinking about how much we love what we do.
Take time off. One mantra could be: Practice 6 days straight, and then give yourself a break on 1. Private instructors can give more specific advice on how to best take breaks and avoid burnout.
Thanks for reading, and happy practicing to our BCD performers!
Here’s a fun photo of me in soundcheck, preparing for a 2014 performance in Beijing, China.
This is a question asked frequently here at BCD and in my private studio. There is no “magic age” to start and no one correct answer to this question. Generally, brass and woodwind lessons are given to students around 4th grade. Guitar is most often taught starting in 3rd grade. Piano, violin, viola and cello are great choices for our students to begin as early as 3 years old.
I had the opportunity to begin with piano lessons at 4 years old, and that’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. Having said that, there’s a dialogue between teacher, student, and parent that informs these choices. My mom says I made it abundantly clear piano was an early passion!
Begin lessons when your child is ready to take direction from an adult, take responsibility for practicing and when the family is ready to devote time, money and energy into this wonderful new adventure.
Join BCD’s teaching artists and K-9 students on Tuesday, May 31st from 3:30 – 5:30PM to celebrate artworks created during the spring trimester! Open Studios is a special opportunity for parents, families, and friends to view experimental and finished works of art in each of our three atelier spaces. Students and faculty will be present to talk about projects and experiences as they pull back the curtain on their ideas and processes. This term, our distinguished teaching artists included Tom O’Neil, Maggie Mailer, Ben Evans, and Max Spitzer. Come sip lemonade, view extraordinary works of art, and hear from the artists themselves!
In conjunction with Reader-to-Reader, a Springfield-based non-profit organization, the Fifth Grade is collecting books!
Reader-to-Reader serves children in rural and underserved communities in the US and around the world. We are excited to continue this community service project in 2016! Last year, Fifth Grade collected several hundred books for this important cause.
Please bring your gently used children’s books (through Grade 9) to the Fifth Grade homeroom in the next week. No textbooks, magazines, videos or reference materials, please!
Our K-9 students have been as busy as ever in the Art Studios this winter! Grades 5 and 6 have been hand building with Mr. Evans in the Ceramics Studio while Mr. Spitzer has Kindergarten through Fourth grade students working on a variety of collaborative drawing and painting projects next door. Upper School students are sculpting in clay with Mr. Evans and painting with this trimester’s teaching artists Tom O’Neil and Maggie Mailer. We can’t wait to show parents, friends, and the BCD community what we’ve been up to on TUESDAY, MARCH 1st at our Winter Open Studios Event! Everyone is invited to swing by the studios between 4:30 – 6:30PM to see finished artworks, works-in-progress, and a few surprises. Warm up with a cup of hot cocoa and join us in celebrating the students’ hard work this trimester!