How we organize practice: Part II

Organizing practice sessions, Part II.

Previously I described the sheets we use to take notes during lessons and to organize practice. We also use a reference sheet to setup a rotation schedule for repertoire, scales, and tonalizations.

Our goal is to completely cover all of the preceding books over the course of a week. Since ViolinGirl is playing in Book 3 now, Books 1 & 2 are on review rotation. So, the reference sheet gives a rotation schedule that we use to determine which pieces to play on any given day. To avoid playing the review pieces in a prefunctory way, I also included a table of ideas to work on for each specific piece. As she learns new techniques, this will evolve because she can port those new techniques back to her older repertoire.

For her working pieces, our practice is to address the three most recent pieces with the most depth. She works on all of the practice bracket spots first then does two play-throughs. Otherwise we aim to play through the current book completely each day.

We put scales and tonalization variations that she’s learned on rotation, too. Often her teacher assigns a particular tonalization variation. If so, then we do the assigned variation; otherwise we refer to the sheet. The same is true for scales.

Again, this is how we set things up for our practice. It probably breaks some rule of Suzuki pedagogy; but the real secret is really habit and focus anyway.


Written by:

Alan is the main practice partner and accompanist for a young violinist.