I am always trying to look for ways to make practicing fun for my students (and myself - sometimes at least). As famed music educator, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki wrote, "If there is no fun there is no learning". Don't get me wrong, practicing is usually a serious matter as it needs to be done in order to get better - but why not find ways to make it fun. So I wanted to tell you about some fun gadgets and tools that can perhaps help make practice a bit more interesting.
First, there are specific tools that are absolutely necessary for a good practice session.
1. A room or area in your home where there are few distractions.
2. Music Stand - unless playing by ear or memory
3. Straight Chair - unless the student is standing.
By the way, posture is very important! It is a given for us wind players as we need optimum lung power but also for string players, percussionists and pianists. Having good posture and position give us the best facility for our fingers and arms. We were made to be upright and that gives our bodies the maximum energy needed to play at our utmost ability.
4. pencil with eraser
As students get more advanced then they will most likely need:
- Metronome - to help keep a steady beat
- Tuner - to check intonation and to practice playing in tune
*these items can be purchased at an area music shop or online.
Now just add the instrument and these necessary tools can make music making fun for sure but we can definitely find more to shake up the practice session a bit.
A great way to mark certain sections of the music that needs more attention. Comes in fun colors and can be purchased from office supply or educational supply stores.
Programs/apps for your various devices!
Tuners and Metronomes: there are many apps out there for these items. You can get some for free or pay a little. Here are a couple that I like:
-Cleartune ($3.99) - A very accurate tuner, includes settings for various instruments.
-Metronome PrO ($2.99) - there are many metronome apps out there but this seems to produce a loud and clear sound, includes many predefined rhythms and beat pattern options, and you can create and store rhythm.
-*Super Metronome Grovebox (FREE - though see below) - metronome with a beat!
I love this app! I love to practice scales and technique with a groove beat for instance; scales with a Salsa or Reggae beat - what fun! Scales are important but WAY more fun when I can choose a groove (from Rock, Jazz, to Salsa, Funk, Reggae, etc.)
-**Super Metronome Grovebox Pro ($3.99) - spend the money to get the most grooves!
-Garage Band ($4.99) - record a performance, then manipulate the sounds, or have a jam session with yourself by adding layers of your playing.
-Voice Memo - to record practicing.
What fun to hear how you sound. Students can be their best teacher by listening to themselves.
-YouTube - wealth of performance and teaching videos.
I recently happened to find 2 of the 3 band pieces that my daughter was working on in band.
-Photo Booth - filming.
An awesome tool to see what you look like playing. It can be a complete eyeopener! I had never seen myself perform until I was receiving my Bachelors in performance. I found out that I swayed so much when I played that I looked like I was going to topple over! Boy did I change things fast and it actually really helped my playing aside from helping me to not look totally ridiculous!
-NMML (Naxos Music Library)/NJL (Naxos Jazz Library) (Free) - Mobile access to two of the LIbrary's streaming music databases.
Well, I hope you find some of these gadgets useful and fun. I know there are many more out there that you all might find helpful. Basically being creative in the process of practicing can do wonders. Let me know if you find useful tools as I am always looking for more.
"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well. This is the practice pathway up the mountain." Robert Dick