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Making the Most Out of Practicing: The Five Coin Trick

by:XuQiu     2020-05-10

A Practice Game: 5-Coin Trick The 'art' of practicing is truly an art. How many teachers simply tell a student to 'go home and play a difficult passage twenty times!'? But, HOW are we supposed to practice? Here's a game that I use for students (all sizes and ages) where the mind is taken off the number of times a passage is played. What I usually tell a student is to choose a passage that needs 'solidifying.' Pick a metronome speed (yes, your metronome IS your friend) that's comfortable. Then begin the game. 1. Pick anywhere from 5 to 10 objects (coins, pieces of candy that don't roll around, rocks, etc). With this game, I tell young students to get the money or candy from the parent so when the practice session is done, they get to keep (or eat) their reward! 2. Place at least 5 of the objects in the 'neutral zone.' The neutral zone is in the middle (table, chair, the top of a musical instrument case, music stand, on the piano, etc.) 3. There are three zones: 'I messed up!' zone (to the left), 'Neutral' zone (in the middle) and, 'I played it right' zone (to the right) 4. OBJECT OF THE GAME is to get ALL the objects to the 'I played it right' zone. 5. NOTE: if the passage needs lots of work, use more than five objects! 6. RULES of the game: You CANNOT have items in BOTH the 'I played it right' and 'I played it wrong' zones. Objects can only be in TWO zones at a time. The 'neutral' zone is one of them. 7. Play through the passage a few times to determine the best metronome speed with the least amount of mistakes. 8. Start with ALL the objects in the neutral zone. 9. Play the passage. Was it played correctly (both notes and rhythms)? If so, move an object to the right ('I played it right' zone). 10. If the passage is played incorrectly, an object is moved to the left ('I played it wrong' zone). 11. Remember that objects can only be in two zones: 'Neutral' and 'I played it right' or 'neutral' and 'I played it wrong' zones. If a passage is played CORRECTLY and there are objects in the 'I played it wrong' zone, move an object from the left to the 'neutral' zone. If a passage is played INCORRECTLY and there are objects in the 'I played it right' zone, move an object from the right back to the 'neutral' zone. If a passage is played CORRECTLY and there are objects in the 'neutral' and 'I played it right' zones, another object is moved to the right. If a passage is played INCORRECTLY and there are objects in the 'neutral' and 'I played it wrong' zones, another object is moved to the left. 12. Play the game until ALL the objects are in the 'I played it right' zone. After they are all to the right, play the passage ONE MORE TIME. If a mistake is made on the final turn, an item has to be moved back to the 'neutral' zone. It will take two more correct performances to get all the objects back in the 'I played it right' zone. 13. Upon completion of this game, either move the metronome up ONE notch and start all over or move onto another passage. To keep from being frustrated, make sure the metronome speed is set to assure success. The key point with this game is to 'cement' the fingerings (and/or rhythms) into the hands and mind. This cannot be done without repetitive practice! Now, go practice! And parents, kids should get to keep the coins or eat the candy.                                

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