6 ways to fit in homework & practice ~

The Homework  / Practice Crunch

You enjoy playing the violin either by yourself, with a group at school, or with the other students in the Suzuki Group class.  By middle school and high school, you have seen the rewards of practice and of sticking with something–violin.  At the same time, by middle school, some students find themselves with a lot of homework.  Certainly, by high school many students have to navigate that challenge.  Just like with everything in life, it is how you handle challenges, not that the challenge appears.

Practice and homework

 Creativity and Planning

1:  Keep your violin  ready to play in a safe place.  If you can easily get your hands on the violin, you are more likely to use it.  At the end of the day, you could put in away in the case.  There is such thing as a horizontal violin holder which gives more support than a vertical holder.

2: Turn your phone / devices off. That step alone will give you many more minutes of valuable time.

How to get things done

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

3: Be creative about getting your homework done.  Nibble away at it one bite at a time.  Take advantage of small chunks of time during the day.  Often the middle and high school student will find a few minutes between classes or even longer blocks of time to start an assignment and finish later.  Some students are able to get assignments started during the commute home.   As for practice, you don’t have to have the perfect 45 minutes or an hour all lined up neatly in one package.  15-20 minutes here and there add up quickly. I wrote another post about practicing the violin to see progress  referring to the Cube Timer, something you can use for homework and for practice.

4:  Try doing some practice in the morning.  Although reports say adolescents like to sleep in, some don’t.  If you are one of those, take advantage of that time to get a little practice in.  You might be in a better mood afterwards just starting the day off playing some beautiful music.

5: Use the violin practice time to relax, a time to be away from the rigors of academics.  If a student develops that mindset, then practice becomes an enjoyable break from the routine.  Do math homework, stop and practice for 15 minutes. Do science homework, and when done, stop again.

6:  Along those same lines, high school students might find practice a healthy way to wind down for the night after completing their academic assignments.  Practicing is better for the brain than any screen time (which reportedly stimulates the brain to stay awake).   They can use a mute to avoid inconveniencing the family.

“Music to me is like breathing.  I don’t get tired of breathing. I don’t get tired of music.” Ray Charles


Other posts about practice

I love to practice!

What does Midori say about practice?

Wonderful Wednesday: Sister Practice!

The show must go on!

We’ve got some performances coming…and

It’s all about the audience!

The audience expects the show to go on no matter what.  Whether we play at a recital, entertain residents at a retirement home, play at the Herndon Depot, or at the Gelato Store, we are playing for our audience.  I want the children to begin to understand that it is not about them, but it is a chance to learn to do for others.

They are playing to give the audience enjoyment of their music, of their playing…and which audience have you ever heard of that doesn’t like to see and hear youth perform?  It is such a treat.  Such a blessing to see young people doing important work–taking their instrument seriously enough “to take it public.” They love to watch them play.

So let’s tell students “What Not to Do!”

 Samantha at Preach What You Practice, writes about 7 deadly sins.  I have taken the liberty to add my own twist to them.

 * Don’t draw attention to your mistakes.  Don’t stop and try to play it again. Just keep playing.  Chances are the audience is enjoying watching you and listening to you that they aren’t checking out your notes or your tuning.  They really are there to hear some good music.

* Don’t correct your wrong notes.  As Samantha says, “An audience will usually not recognise an incorrect pitch, but they will always notice a disruption in rhythm.”

* Don’t show that you aren’t happy with your performance.   You must smile!  You must look happy!  That’s why your audience is there. To enjoy a few moments of pleasure in their day.  And they love to watch you play!  And after the performance when you get complimented, simply say,”thank you.”  Don’t say I played terrible.

Suzuki performance


* Don’t look at the audience while you play. They are looking at you play, but not really at you.  Don’t try to see what your mom or dad are doing.  Don’t glance at the crying baby.  Or the laughing child.  If you remember you are there to entertain them, you will smile and play. Or at least look pleasant.

* Don’t start too fast.  The adrenalin can take over.  There’s that brain controlling you instead of you controlling it. Practice the beginning of your piece that you are going to play so that you start at a good pace.

* Don’t change anything on the day of the performance. Play what you have prepared.  If you watch the Olympics, those who do routines have done them a thousand, maybe ten thousand times before. They do not change them at the last minute. They even practice in their costumes.  So, don’t wear anything crazy for the public performance.

* Don’t forget to acknowledge your audience.  Greet the audience with a bow and a smile.  They are there for you!  Bowing is part of the performance, both before and after.  Bowing is polite. It’s a way for you to say thank you for listening to me and clapping!  (I love to hear you clap!)  And walk on the performance stage with confidence.  People want to watch and listen to you when you look confident.

“The Violin is simply an extraordinary instrument with just four strings: G, D, A and E.”  Liz


Enjoy my other blog posts:

I love to watch you play

Wonderful Wednesday: Sister Practice

Play violin with a parrot on your head?


International Dot Day –time to celebrate again~

.The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.

Inspired by the book by Peter H. Reynolds, International Dot Day is celebrated every year on September 15-ish.

All we teachers love the story of The Dot.  It is a simple story of a teacher who encourages a frustrated child, helping her find courage and confidence.  A teacher who celebrates the small successes, yes, even the smallest of steps.  Even makes a great big deal out of one tiny step, one tiny dot!


The Suzuki “Dot”

Suzuki violin teachers celebrate dots too. We find the smallest step to applaud.

Maybe it’s getting to the perfect bow hold, an absolute must to good playing.

Maybe it’s simply getting a few fingers right on the bow, a few times in a row.

Maybe its hearing good tone for the first time and only a little bit.

We celebrate Suzuki “dots” at each lesson. We help the students gain the confidence and courage, inspiring them to discover the possibilities in their skill.

Then we go further and frame those dots at recitals in “swirly gold,” surprising the student to see how many people admire her playing, her work.  She will go on to show us: “Hmmph! I can make a better dot than that!” for the next time.

The child in the story who painted and painted is our student, practicing and practicing until one day at the school recital, someone looks up at him and says, “you’re really a great violin player. I wish I could play the violin.”

Suzuki dot day


International Dot Day

Our Suzuki Studio has Dot Day every day. Just like International Dot Day, we celebrate and support creativity, courage, and collaboration.

There are so many ways for you to celebrate at home, too!

Put a dot on the floor and play your violin there in that very spot!

Put a big paper dot on the refrigerator and stand in front of it to play.

For older students, create quite the dot like the celebrities.

As Dot Day supporters, The Little Orchestra of New York City believes that all people of all ages should enjoy great music.  So they hold LOS Kids for ages 3-10.  I love how they say on their ticket page, “Lap seats are available for very small children and infants.

How can you celebrate Dot Day on September 15-ish? (ish is another book by Reynolds which young children will love.)

“The fact that children make beautiful music is less significant than the fact that music makes children beautiful.”–Cheryl Lavender


Visit also:

How is planting a carrot seed like learning to play the violin?

I Love to Watch You Play!

All Children Can Play the Violin Well