Practice Challenge

Currently, the Skips A Beat Music studio is holding a practice challenge!

In my studio, I aim to have students practice a minimum of 10 minutes a day for 4 or 5 days per week. Sometimes this doesn’t happen and students need a little extrinsic motivation to get in the practice time they need. So, for the next several weeks I am having students keep track of their practice. If they are able to practice the minimum of ten minutes a day, four times a week they will receive prizes through various points during the challenge. The coolest prize; which is saved for the end, of course, is a light-up bracelet that reacts to sound. It lights up whenever it hears a sound, so it will light up with the beat of a recorded song or when your student plays their instrument. It’s pretty cool if I say so myself and excellent motivation to continue to practice even when the challenge is over.

Why ten minutes? I came across the 10-Minute Rule while reading The Talent Code by, Daniel Coyle during college. (Read a short blurb on the rule on Coyle’s blog here.) What I took away from this “rule” is that ten minutes is an ideal amount of time for someone to intensely focus on a task and to see a noticeable improvement. A lot of work can happen in only 10 minutes and is a much more friendly and approachable time frame compared to 30 minutes or an hour. I, myself, remember my parents setting an old kitchen timer for 30 minutes and wouldn’t allow me to stop practicing until the alarm went off. Honestly, that technique did not work for me and my parents gave up after only two tries. I always had much better success practicing at the same time every day. This time was right after I got home from school. This time worked for me because it gave me some time to unwind from my day and work through some of the stress from the day. Also, I knew I would be left alone and uninterrupted during this time. I did not set a time limit but instead practiced until I couldn’t focus anymore or became tired physically. (Remember: playing an instrument is both a physical and mental task. It is important to not overexert one’s self especially since repetitive stress injuries can occur.)

It is my experience that once a student gets done with ten minutes, they often want to go for longer. Also, it is okay if some of those practice sessions are just the student “playing” on the instrument. For example, I used to love to play with the programmed rhythms and sounds on my keyboard growing up or making weird noises on the saxophone. This is an important and fun part of playing an instrument. It is basically the student exploring music and the instrument in a way that they rarely get to do in a band or private lessons. However, every practice session should not be entirely made up of “play” time. Some focused work also needs to happen.

Thank you to all of the parents and guardians for helping keep your students on track during this challenge. Your signature will be required on the Practice Challenge Handout at the end of each week to ensure your student is sticking to the program. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions!

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