Practice Time Can Be Playtime!
“Only practice on the days that you eat” ~Shinichi Suzuki
Impossible! Unrealistic! Or is it? Practicing at home is a huge part of the process of learning a musical instrument. However, there is no reason it has to be a boring, monotonous routine. Particularly for young children, practice time must be playtime. It should not be viewed as homework, but rather a time to “play with my flute.”
Turning practice points into games is fun and makes the commitment of practicing more manageable. With just a little creativity, you can turn that dreadful nagging into a cheerful smile. Whether the student is 3 or 8, there are endless fun ways to practice the flute.
Suggestions for Creative Suzuki Practice
Reviewing songs is crucial to a child’s musical development, but is often less appealing than playing the new song. Dressing up and having a parade around the house is a great way to get through a list of review songs. Play one song in each room! If you have a Nuvo flute, you can even play your flute in the pool! Another fun way to practice that incorporates the whole family is making a board game. Have your child design a board, song cards, and game pieces. Roll a dice and move around the board as you happily cross off everything on the practice list. Can’t seem to get the flute out of the case today? Put the CD on and act out the songs with your children. How do we dance like Honeybees? Fireflies? Cuckoo birds? Listen and learn the Suzuki flute songs by playing freeze dance or musical chairs. Many children also benefit from making up their own words to the songs or illustrating them.
“Knowledge plus 10,000 times equals ability.” ~ Shinichi Suzuki
That is a lot of repetitions! Especially for very active children that need to move, having the patience to stand still and play something 5-10 times is very difficult. Try setting up an obstacle course in the backyard. Have them play one repetition at every station. By the end of the course, they have mastered a new technique. Another version is placing a variety of mats and pillows on the ground. Hop from pillow to pillow playing one repetition each time. Counting repetitions with pennies, beads, or other small toys visually shows the child how many counts they have already done and how many more they have left. While it is fun to move around the house, some families benefit from having a flute corner. This is a small, designated area for flute time. You might consider getting a flute stand and leaving it out of the case to initiate picking up the instrument. Work together to decorate the space. It should be inviting and feel like a safe place to learn. Always try new things when it comes to where and how you practice. Being innovative and practical will help fit it into your daily life. Take the flute to the park or play for friends and neighbors. Consider the personality and learning style of your child to create games and activities that not only get the job done, but make the process of learning music a joyful and positive experience.