Unlike the other achievements, this one can be earned as many times as you like! Here’s how to do it:
1. Pick a song out of your method book (Alfred Book, All for Strings, or Classical Guitar Method) that we have NEVER played in class.
2. Teach yourself to play the song, making sure you’re playing the correct notes and rhythms!
3. Play the song for your teacher in class. To earn a star, you must be playing with correct notes, rhythms, and dynamics.
If you play a piece in class but have too many wrong notes and rhythms, you won’t be able to earn a star that day, but you will be able to try again the following week. Your teacher will not be able to give you any hints about what to do differently. The goal of this achievement is to be your own teacher!
As a musician, your hands are the most important part of your body when it comes to your instrument (unless you’re a singer, of course!). Because music is not a sport, it may not be immediately obvious that we can do things to make our hands stronger and more flexible. But our fingers, hands, and arms have muscles and tendons that really do affect our ability to play. There are also exercises and stretches you can do either with your instrument or away from your instrument that can help make your hands even better at what they’re trying to do when playing a song. How we use them makes a difference as well – working towards your fingers being relaxed at all times and not moving when they aren’t being used gives your music a better sound and avoids injury.
Here are some links to some exercises you can do to work on strength, flexibility, and control in your fingers. DO NOT practice these exercises for more than five minutes a day, and if something hurts, stop immediately. Talk to me about it in your next lesson before resuming the exercise.
I would encourage you to check out exercises for all instruments, even if you just play one. Some of the exercises explained that are not instrument related are helpful for both piano and guitar.
Having trouble remembering to practice? Here are some cool looking reminders that you can print and put up on the wall, or save to your computer or ipad.
Right-click on a photo and click on “view image.”
Then, right-click on the image and click “save image as.”
All of these photos are public domain from Pixabay.com, and the words were added with a Windows app called Font Candy.
If you’re looking for a way to earn more practice points, some blog posts on the HOME page now have questions you can answer to earn points! Each quiz will tell you how many points you can earn.
PLEASE NOTE: These practice points are not earned by the amount of time you spend working on answering the questions. Do not add how many minutes it took you to finish the quiz to the practice time log. You will get practice points for getting the right answers! 🙂
A quiz will be at the end of a blog post, so you will find it after you read the blog post. It will look something like this:
After typing your name, click on the CIRCLE next to the answer that you think is correct.
Don’t forget to click the submit button!
Afterward, click on “view my score.” There, you will find out if you got any questions wrong. You may try again if you got a question wrong.
PLEASE READ – STUDENTS, THIS MEANS YOU!
Additional Questions on Practice Time Log
In the Practice Time Log section, you will see that there are some additional questions for you to answer about how you practiced. The reason for this is that it’s very important for you to think about how you’re practicing.
Let’s pretend you’re working on a song, let’s say Arabesque for example. What is the first thing that we generally do when learning a new song?
If piano is your instrument, we’ll probably start with playing through a little bit of the RH part by itself, then a little bit of the LH part by itself, and then we’ll try playing through with both hands at the same time, very slowly.
If guitar or violin is your instrument, we won’t need to do RH and LH by itself, and we’ll just start very slowly playing a small section from the beginning, or we’ll work on being able to play the chords we’re using in the song before we go on to playing the actual song.
What needs to happen before we can go on to the next part of the song?
1) Do the notes need to be correct?
2) Are you playing the right notes with the right fingers (are you following the finger numbers?)
3) Does the song or exercise need to be played with a faster tempo (the speed) so it will sound like how it’s supposed to sound?
4) If you’re playing piano, do you need to be playing both hands together?
When you’re playing your instrument during the week, how can you think about and make these things happen so we can learn the next part of the song in your class?
This is one very important point that you need to remember:
The more you teach yourself to play the right notes with the right fingering and right tempo during the week, the more we are able to learn new things in class – like the next part of a song or a whole new song!
One thing that it is VERY EASY to do when practicing is to just keep playing the song over and over without really doing anything to fix the problems that are coming up. If you’re playing Arabesque, and there are two notes that you keep playing wrong over and over, will those two notes get fixed if you just keep playing the song over and over? Probably not. What is a good way to fix those two notes?
- Practice just the section with those two notes by themselves until you are playing them correctly.
- Play that little section much slower to make sure you can get those notes correct.
- Don’t let yourself play the wrong notes – go back and fix it if they are wrong.
- When you can get the notes right, play the little section several times to make sure you can KEEP playing it right.
AFTER you are able to play the notes correctly this way, then go back to the beginning and play the whole song. The problem should be fixed! If not, go back and practice the section again.
Take a look at this video – the guy in this video is talking about something similar. Sometimes we might have a section in a piece that is a lot harder, so we play it slower than the rest of the piece. See what this guy does.
Remember, playing something the right way only one time does not mean that you have mastered it and can go on to something else. You only know that you can officially play a song or exercise the right way after you have played it the right way many times.
Practice does not mean playing until you get it right and then stopping – it is continuing to play when you do get it right to make sure it stays right.
If you use these ideas, your practicing at home will help you get better much faster!
Contact me if you have any questions 🙂