We believe students learn best at their own pace

Melody Music Studios believes in letting the student choose the pace he or she can handle. We will, of course, challenge the student to do his/her very best, however we will not pressure the student to do more than able, considering the learning pace of the student and the time he or she has to practice. We understand that people are busy, especially adult students, and we would rather the student continue lessons even if the learning pace is slow, than to not take at all and therefore learn nothing!


Kathi’s best Practice Tips

Repeat troubled spots immediately
The sooner you go back and play the difficult spots again, the more you will retain. I call this “repeat before the glue dries”. Because there are different levels of retention, this is another reason why going back to the very beginning of a piece does not help you correct the errors or improve your playing. For most adults, you can remember the Pledge of Allegiance, because as a child you said it every day for years. So even now when you probably haven’t said it for a long while, you can still recite it. This is because you’ve learned it at a deeper level. Practicing a part over and over but doing it consecutively is the best way to retain what you’ve learned or corrected and sets what you’ve learned to that same deep level Tips

Practice Tips

Spot practicing
Another mistake I’ve often seen students do is to start at the beginning of the piece when a mistake is made, no matter where they are in the song or how they played the song at the beginning. I like to think of problem areas like a tangle that you need to straighten out, so playing the entire piece is not going to get the tangle out, and in fact, sometimes reinforces the mistake and it then becomes a learned error rather than a mistake. Here’s the order of learning a new piece that I’ve always found to help me:
1. To begin, play the piece all the way through, no matter how many mistakes you make, so you become familiar with the song and where it’s going musically.
2. Divide your song in sections to learn. If you’re a beginner, your song will probably only be a few lines to just one page at most, for higher levels, you may have several pages to learn. Use your own judgment on how long of a section you would like to learn at a time. Since you’ve learned to practice in short segments, you may choose to only play the one section per practice, then at your next practice session, move on to the next section.
3. One you’ve finished practicing all the sections, you can now play the piece in its entirety. However, there will always be sections that will give you more trouble than other parts. This is where spot practicing comes into play. Once you’ve determined the parts that give you trouble (this may be one measure, an entire line or several lines), determine to use your entire practice session to just go over that particular part, then work outward. For example, let’s say you have one measure that gives you trouble. Play that one measure repeatedly (at least 5 times in a row) until you feel more comfortable with it, then play the measure before and after the troubled measure, than play the entire line. Sometimes the problem is not just that part, but going into and out of that part.

Learned Mistakes

How to correct a learned mistake
There are mistakes that happen randomly, and then there are the mistakes the student makes every time he/she comes across a certain section of music. This is what I call a “learned” mistake, and if you practice incorrectly, you can actually make the problem worse. I have developed a 3 step process for correcting these mistakes:
1. Highlight the mistake-the first step in correcting the mistake is to simply identify what it is the student is doing incorrect. Is the student going too far to a specific note, not far enough, or identifying the note or rhythm incorrectly, etc?
2. Delete the bad information-take the bad information out of your thinking process.
3. Input correct information-and finally enter the corrected information in processing that section(s) and practice that section(s) with the corrected information.
I have found when the student does these 3 steps (and in some cases, even after just doing the first step of identifying the mistake), it corrects the mistake instantly. I advise to follow the correction with “spot practicing” (which I describe in the following segment), and the mistake will completely disappear altogether.

Free Skype Lesson!

Melody Music Studios now offers on line/skype lessons from our staff of advanced level instructors nationwide, so you can choose the right one for you. This is not a video, but a live lesson with an instructor of your choice. And best of all, it’s in the comfort of your own home at affordable rates (and with gas prices, that’s a great savings).

All you need for on line lessons is a computer, web cam, internet, and the free Skype or other on line programs! It’s so easy!

We’re offering a FREE 30 minute trial lesson plus a week trial period to cancel if you’re not happy. So you have nothing to lose! Simply enter SK30F on the form for the promo code field, and you’ll receive the first 30 minutes free.

MMS Beautiful music

Kathi’s top practice tips

Keep the instrument and practice area in a place where it’s easy to practice. The biggest barrier to practicing can often be getting to the instrument or area to practice. I suggest having the instrument in a place where it’s visible, as a reminder to the student to practice, and in a room that is easy to practice in. Make sure the room is free from clutter and noise, where it may be difficult for the student to practice. Any hindrances to practicing should be taken away.

Kathi’s top practice tips

MMS Beautiful musicKeep the practice time realistic to the student’s age and level. Don’t expect a beginner student to practice for 30 minutes straight. It’s best to keep practicing at short segments, but often and consistent. If the goal is 30 minutes per day, the student can break it up into 2-15 minute practices, with a break in between. Once the student gets to the “tired” point, he/she is no longer retaining what is learned. By doing shorter practices often, will help the student learn quicker. The suggested practice lengths will differ for each student, depending on their age and level. For beginners between the ages of about 7-9, the normal length of practice I suggest is 15-25 minutes, for an older child or adult beginner, it may be 30-40 minutes, and for more advanced levels, it may be 1-2 hours. These are only suggestions, as each student may require more or less time before getting to their “tired” point.

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