Home Practice – Starting a New Year or Term

Welcome to the New Year and a new term! We hope everyone had a lovely break, spending time with family and relaxing – and we especially hope this year proves way less stressful than the last two years have been.

New Day

Now it’s time to get up and running! Our Home Practice posts towards the end of last year laid out the Big Picture. It’s a way of planning so that you know where you are headed for the coming year and the term. In this post I wanted to do a short recap of how to plan for a new school term.

Together with the parents and students, for each child we write up a simple plan for the year. This works for new beginners just as well as for students who have been studying for a while.

Setting the Big Goals

  • Set the progress target for the year. The target will enable you, the parent and the student to know where they are headed. These goals are written in the notebook the parent brings to the lesson and are also entered on each student’s group class sheet in small groups at the Group Class. I put a range of students together in the small groups, as the more advanced students and parents enjoy helping the new beginners.
  • If the student is a beginner, the three of you will aim for Twinkles in 10 Weeks and finish Book One towards the end of the year. Many students aim to be well into Book Two by this time. This target will be talked about at Group Class together with all parents and students. I ask students who achieved these goals in the previous year to stand up so that new parents can see that it’s possible.
  • More advanced students from Book One to Four are well able to do two books or more a year. Volumes Six to 10 combined with solo pieces beyond the Suzuki repertoire take more time, and they too are part of the goals shared in the group classes. This kind of progress becomes the common expectation and group classes are the place to demonstrate what is attainable.

Once you have students achieving the expectations, then you can use them to highlight back to everyone else what can be accomplished. It should be clear that goals are not meant to be – or work as – competitive comparisons between students. They are designed to help students and parents work together for everyone’s musical progress.

Refresh the Repertoire

  • At the first lesson and group class for the year get everyone playing all the pieces, from the books they already know. The aim is to quickly get students’ memories up and working. Fluency in playing the pieces is a key.

This point is the basis for everyone getting the Morning Home Practice up and running again. In one of our coming posts I will outline what we organise to keep playing happening over holiday breaks.

  • Morning Practice can initially be as little as a few minutes, combined with playing the recording of a book during breakfast. Once students have learned and can play the pieces, they will play along with a rotation of books in the mornings. As you build through the books, students and parents will already know how to do this.
  • The first of the sessions at your first and every subsequent Group Class is essential for getting everyone playing again. Play through Book One with everyone, including new beginners if they have observed group classes before they start.

In the coming post we’ll talk about how to learn new pieces effectively and recap what parents and students do in the Afternoon Practice.

Cheers, Allie

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