Recently, a reader of my blog – Maria – wrote to me that she had been ill and therefore had to cancel the lessons with her students, which she was not happy to do. She wrote:
„If once we teachers get sick, 1000 pangs of conscience will plague us, because we will not see our protégés for that long. So I came up with a kind of emergency practicing package for my students, a mixture of simple bow exercises, fluency, position changes, and favorite pieces.“
Isn’t that a wonderful idea? Children who come regularly to their instrumental lessons every week can easily lose their practice rhythm when the lessons are cancelled. This applies to cancellations caused by illness as well as for holidays. When children have „dropped out“ of the regularity of practice, it is usually associated with considerable effort to find their way back into it. It’s much easier to stay on the ball all the time. Such a compact emergency practicing package is perfect for bridging a longer time between lessons.
What could an emergency practice package look like?
It depends on how advanced the students are. Of course you can not give each student the same „package“. For my students, I would pack the following exercises into the emergency practice package:
- exercises for fine motor skills
- exercises for intonation
- bowing exercises, key strokes
- favorite pieces, repertory pieces
Fine Motor Skills
For beginners this can be the „bowing ghost“ (a little exercise of Fiedel-Max: Pre-Tutorial for violin), these small movements of the fingers of the bow hand, as well as „finger gymnastics“, a short finger exercise for the fluency of the left hand.
For more advanced students this can be a vibrato exercise to train a continuous and even movement of vibrato. It can also be an advanced fluency exercise for the left hand. For the right hand, it could be a certain bowing pattern, or an exercise for smooth string crossings.
For beginners, one- or two-octave scales with different rhythmic patterns are a good choice. Advanced students should play the position climbing game (an exercise of Fiedel-Max: Violin Tutorial Volume 5). This is a very compact and efficient intonation training. It can also be played in different keys and with different finger sequences.
Bowing Exercises, Key Strokes
Bow exercises and key strokes should be selected according to the students‘ learning level. Already skilled key strokes can be refined. The students should keep the focus on smooth movements and good sound quality.
Favourite Pieces, Repertory Pieces
Here, the children can choose which piece they want to play. They should enjoy to play their favourite music, because that is their reason for learning a musical instrument!
Short and Efficient
The exercises of the emergency practice package should be short and efficient, so that the children are well-rehearsed and get „appetite“ to play music. In this way, a lesson-free time can be bridged very well. In any case, I will pick up this wonderful idea and implement it!
What would an emergency practice package look like for your students? What would seem especially important to you to pack in there? Please feel free to write a comment!