We’ve all heard the age-old adage “practice makes perfect,” but what does it really mean to
practice? According to the dictionary, there are three definitions: to perform or work at
repeatedly so as to become proficient, to train by repeated exercise, and to do repeated
exercises for proficiency. The theme amongst all these definitions is that with repetition comes
proficiency.

For most children, practice is associated more with sports (think soccer practice, baseball
practice, etc.), in which they are not expected to train in between regular team meet-ups. Music
is different. If you wait until the next formal lesson to touch your instrument, you will never
improve. One of the benefits of attending a Suzuki summer camp is that you are able to meet
with an instructor every day, continually building skills. For the rest of the year, however,
students and parents are responsible for keeping up daily practice routines.

Those of you who engage with yoga or meditation might already be familiar with the benefits of
daily practice. As with the poses in yoga, the more familiar a student is with their instrument and
the music, the quicker and easier they will engage with new and challenging concepts, and
appreciate the flow rather than struggle with the mechanics. As author Jeff Haden writes in The
Motivation Myth, “Success leads to motivation, leads to success, leads to motivation.”

With summer approaching, teachers understand that schedules are varied and students may
not always have access to their instruments on a daily basis. This is fine as long as they get to
practicing when they can. Practicing once a week is still better than none at all.

Tips for ensuring excellent daily practice:

1. Listen to the Suzuki music; being familiar with the music makes it easier to learn and
helps motivate your student.

2. Set a daily time to practice. It should be a routine part of their schedule, just as brushing
their teeth and doing their homework.

3. Have a dedicated space where they can come to focus entirely on their instrument.

4. Remove distractions, such as a cell phone, tablet, or TV, to encourage focus and
increase the quality of the practice itself.

5. Model responsible time management. There will be days when they won’t want to
practice, and it will fall to you as the parent to enforce their practice routine. Impress
upon them that their music practice is as non-negotiable as doing their homework.