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September 2004

September 17, 2004 10:47

Everyone struggles with practicing at some point in their journey learning the violin. These days, my struggle is to make other small-and medium sized people, along with a few adults – my students – practice. To this end, I made up a “Practice Promise” that I make everyone sign. IN BLOOD. Okay, just with a pen. It's a reminder, geared toward children, of why we practice, and I make even my very youngest kids sign it. I also make adults sign it; even an adult needs an explanation of practice and to know that I expect it.

I tried to make it reasonable, as well. It's not always a five-year-old's fault that he didn't practice, and children have a very strong sense of conscience. They need to have a way to still feel good about their efforts on the violin when Mom made them go to Aunt Flossie's birthday party across town and didn't help them practice on a certain day. As long as that doesn't happen all the time, it's okay. I tell them that five times a week is the bare minimum, but if they practice every single day, Mrs. Niles will jump up and down. And I never forget to make a great big deal of jumping up and down on those weeks of seven-day success!

Here it is, with my permission to copy it for your students:

My Practice Promise

Practicing is like eating or brushing my teeth – I do it every day!

I practice for ME, because I want to learn to play the violin.

Practicing helps me to be good at what I do.

Practicing is work, but it is also fun. It is fun to do something well!

My fingers learn by practicing every day – they can't learn the same way my brain learns!

This is my Practice Promise to me and my teacher:

I will practice every day unless I have a really good reason for missing, like I am sick or have an important family or school event that forces me to miss.

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