What's in our practice kit?

Over the years, I’ve collected quite a few things in my practice kit - my bag of tricks that we use during practice. It’s quite a diverse collection of objects, some more useful that others. Let’s unpack it and see what’s in there:

Highlighting tape

We use highlighting tape to call out tricky passages to emphasize in practice. We have four different colors: yellow, green, pink, and blue. Because…why not? You can get it from

Self-stick page flags

We use these constantly for marking pages in music books. Again, we have several different colors. Because.


The dice are in their own little bag in the practice kit. There are two different six sided dice, a six sided die with another six sided die nested inside of it. There’s a 30 sided die, a 20 sided die, and a 12 sided die. For deciding on the number of repetitions, the 12 sided version gets used more often. For longer term assignments, the 30 sided die may have more use.

Deck of cards

We use a deck of cards for practice games. For example, we may roll the dice to determine the number of repetitions. Then I’ll take out that number of cards. For every good repetition, ViolinGirl gets a card. Otherwise the card is mine.

Vibrato shakers

For practice the wrist motion of vibrato, we have several shakers. One is a repurposed plastic easter egg. Two are mini TicTac boxes. For the record, ViolinGirl long ago ate the contents. Now they are filled with rice. Another two shakers are decorative egg-shaped kids percussion shakers. Why so many? Because choice is good. Anything we can do to gamify practice the better. So we play rock, paper, scissors to decide who gets which shaker.

Quote cards

This is a deck of laminated cards that I made. On one side is a quote from Dr. Suzuki. On the reverse is a series of question about the quote. “What does this mean to you?” “What are some ways you could apply this to practicing?” Not something we do every day.

Affirmation cards

Another deck of laminated cards that I made up. On one side is her affirmation and on the other side is my corresponding affirmation. I pull these out if we’re feeling stress or there’s some potential for conflict coming into practice.

Peg compound

You never know when peg troubles could happen.

Written by:

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