The Practice Challenge
As music teachers we have all spent many hours trying to teach students good practice technique only for them to repeatedly just play through pieces when they do their individual practice. Students tell us they have done lots of practice but it is unfortunately often evident that they have done a huge amount of playing through. It is great that the students enjoy playing and it is our jobs as teachers to try end ensure they achieve their potential so finding a way to reinforce the ideas of good practice techniques at home is something we are all striving for.
The Practice Challenge cards were designed by Rachel Broadbent in the summer of 2019 as a way of helping reinforce good practice techniques and also to help students that don't have much guidance and support at home for their practice. They are also a useful tool for teaching can help create a fun student lead lesson full of creativity and musical discussion.
The Practice Challenge has 20 challenges that are instrument family specific and currently there are editions for Woodwind and Brass. (String and Piano editions are in development). These 20 challenges are for example,
Find the hardest bar of your piece and play it slowly, 3 times.
Clap the rhythms of the first 4 bars of your piece
Alongside these challenges there are instrument specific challenges relating to breathing, finger exercises and dynamics amongst others.
Students are encouraged to do 3 practice challenges each time they do their individual practice. All they have to do is roll the 20 sided dice, read the number and do that numbered challenge. Its as simple as that.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
I have used the Practice Challenge with my oboe students and it was a real hit! It is a great way to give students ideas for how to practise their pieces and technique, whilst making practice like a fun game that they are motivated to complete. It can also help to create more focus when working on improving pieces in lessons. It even inspired my students to invent their own creative ways to practice and one student even was inspired made their own game!
Hannah B - Oboist
The challenges are suggestions of how a student can improve and as a student develops they can use their own creativity to expand on them and to make them work for the piece they are playing. A lesson with a teacher guiding them through how to use the card goes a long way so they know they are able to be creative and if it says play something slowly, 3 times that they are hopefully going to listen to how they play and start working on making their playing sound better each time or maybe they can use it to focus on articulation or even dynamics. Students have the freedom to expand on the challenges set by the card and that is the aim, to encourage students to practice in a fun way that really helps guide them to good practice techniques.
The Practice Challenge comes with a double sided card along with a 20 sided dice in a bag that can be hung on a music stand for easy access.