So, you’ve missed a lesson this week. Lesson cancellations happen. Even when you miss a week with your teacher, it doesn’t have to be a moratorium on your progress. There are myriad ways that you can maintain and even continue making progress after missing your lesson.
Practice Makes Perfect
We’ve all heard the adage “practice makes perfect,” and practicing intentionally is incredibly beneficial. Developing great practice habits is a fantastic way to avoid plateauing between lessons, whether you are missing a lesson or not. Here are a few basics which can help you create a sustainable practice routine:
• Define Your Space
The area where you decide to practice should be free from distractions. Give yourself a room where you can focus, and make sure that you have everything that you need before you begin: music, pencil/eraser, metronome, etc. Occasionally changing your surroundings can prevent monotony, and it can make your practice routine more engaging.
• Start with 30 Minutes a Day
Practicing intentionally for 30 minutes a day can be incredibly powerful for any student. This affords you the time to work through pieces and/or techniques, which allows skill strengthening and building muscle memory. Practice Session Example: warm-up (5min), run through your pieces (10min), work through tricky passages (10min), and run through your music again (5min). Pretty simple, right? And honestly, who doesn’t have 30 minutes!?
• Let Go of Perfection
Just like your lessons, practicing should be a realm free from judgement. You are learning just as much here as you are with a teacher in the room. Give yourself room to make mistakes. Learning is a process.
The best point of reference for developing habits that will benefit your growth is, you guessed it, your teacher. Since you are working intimately with your private instructor, they can help you cultivate a practice schedule that will help you focus on your individual goals. They also have spent years cultivating practice habits themselves, so they are an excellent resource.
If you are unable to have your weekly lesson, but still would like to check in with an instructor, Office Hours are a great alternative. Office hours are basically 15-minute mini-lessons where you can get extra help, better explanations, or short refreshers from Forbes Music teachers. Even if your teacher isn’t available to meet with you, there are many excellent teachers who could give you tips and tricks for approaching your music more effectively. Office Hours can only be scheduled as an online session, and they are not available for an in-home option.
Play What You Love; Love What You Play
If you are struggling to stay motivated in your lessons, that can definitely impact your progress. Sometimes it’s as easy as finding some new pieces to work on, and other times you just need to breathe some new life into your current repertoire.
• Repertoire Tracker
The Repertoire Tracker feature is an excellent way to monitor your progress on pieces of music you are studying in your lessons. Teachers will be able to add musical works, concepts, practice items, and techniques to your profile as well as make updates to the completion status. Any pieces that you request to learn can also be added to your profile, making it easy to see where you have been and where you would like to go with your musical studies.
• Watch and Listen
Strengthening your skills can be as easy as actively watching and/or listening to performances of the pieces you are working on. Active listening can be a great way to better understand phrasing, dynamic contrast, and overall musical articulation. Studying how other musicians approach the same work can be enlightening, and can be helpful in solidifying concepts that are being addressed in your lessons.
If you are unsure of where to start, or which performance would be best for you to review, ask your teacher for suggestions. Your student profile has a Shared Notes feature, which allows you to access uploaded notes, sheet music, audio examples, and video files for easy access.
Missing a lesson isn’t the end of the world, or a barrier to continued progress. Working with your teacher to find creative solutions in the interim is a great way to stay on track so that you don’t lose momentum when a lesson isn’t possible.