always seems to be much confusion over what to practice, how much
to practice and how to divide your practice time. Here are some
tips to help you (and to help guide the parent).
First of all, students are given weekly assignments (the green sheet). This sheet is placed in the front pocket of the students binder. This will tell you what to have prepared for the next lesson. If you are alternating weeks between snare drum and drum set, then there will be two assignment sheets. In a normal sequence, one week you will have a set lesson and then the next week you will have a snare lesson. This is the pattern unless you are told otherwise.
Make sure that you LOOK at your assignment sheets. There is no excuse for not having lessons prepared. If I forget to write something down, then it is my fault and you will not be penalized.
Students should practice 5 - 6 days week (homework permitting). If you are involved in other extra curricular activities, you should ask for a copy of Scheduling Practice.
With beginning students, especially the younger ones, I assign a certain number or repetitions for an exercise or a page. When ALL of the repetitions are completed, then the practice session is over. This time is marked on the Practice Calendar and then the day is signed by a parent.
It should take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to complete, just the technical portion of the practice. When you add reading, then the sessions should be longer. There is not such thing as a 5 or 10 minute practice session, even for a beginner.
Each practice session should start out with hand exercises that are in the first section of the binder. At some point you will have more than one page in that section. You only need to practice one page of hand exercises each day. There should be the page that you received at your first lesson and then some pages that are called, Single Double Diddle. One page per day is enough. Do a different page each day. If you want to do more than one page, you are certainly encouraged to do so. Make sure that you do the correct number of repetitions for each exercise.
After you have completed your hand exercises, you will practice your reading assignment. Reading assignments are in the third section of your binder. Make sure that you are learning the names of the notes and the names of the rests and any other terms that are on the pages. Practice the reading exercises the correct amount of times.
When you are done with this, mark down your practice time on your Practice Calendar and give it to a parent to sign.
Check your assignment sheet to make sure that you have practiced everything.
Depending on the age of the student, the practice time will increase. Your practice time will depend on the amount of work that you have assigned. At this point you will be receiving Rudimental assignments. These assignments will be placed in the second section of your binder.
Your practice day will consist of Hand Exercises (section one), Rudimental Assignment (section two) and Reading Assignment (if you have one.)
If you are preparing a drum set lesson then you will still start with Hand Exercises and Technique Exercises. You will then work on your drum set assignment.
YOU ARE TO START EACH PRACTICE SESSION WITH HAND EXERCISES AND TECHNIQUE EXERCISES REGARDLESS IF YOU ARE PREPARING A DRUM SET LESSON OR A SNARE DRUM LESSON.
Your practice sessions, depending on your age, should be at least 30 - 45 minutes a day.
Practice session times that are marked on the calendar are times that are spent on assigned work only. Any extra playing time should not be included on the calendar. It is possible that students play 2 or so hours a day, but only part of that time is on assigned material. Only the assigned material time is marked on the calendar. I do encourage students to play after their assignments are done. Playing along with CDs or the radio or just improvising is a great way to learn and to develop ones style.
Reviewing rudiments or reading assignments is a good idea also. Music reading is cumulative and everything that you learn today will be used in the future. You need to retain all that you have learned and reviewing is a great way to do this. Reviewing rudiments is a great way to improve on your speed and accuracy.
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