Dr. Suzuki says, “Practice only on the days you eat.”
I recently just found out about the Suzuki Method’s 100 Days of Practice when my daughter’s cello teacher handed me a chart to fill in at her music lesson last Saturday.
The idea is simple: you practice every day without missing a day (excluding lesson days if you wish) and mark each day on a chart up to 100 days. If the student is away (on an airplane only!) or ill, they can complete their practice via listening to their pieces. On a ‘sick day’, you can listen to Suzuki CD instead of practising your piece. For students that do not learn the Suzuki method, you can listen to your ABRSM or Rockschool piece on the CD or Youtube and imagine playing the piece in your head, or listening out for dynamics, articulation and rhythm to see whether the version you play is exactly the same. There can be special small prizes for each milestone of 25, 50, 75 and of course 100 days. Teachers give out certificates, ribbons, and medals for the other milestones beyond 100 too, so the chart never stops!
What many parents have found is that once you take away the option of not practicing, it is SO MUCH EASIER to make it happen every day. The more days the child plays consistently, the easier the routine becomes, the more motivated he/she feels, the easier it is to play, the happier the whole practice dynamic is and before you realize it you have a consistent practice routine happening in your house and a much happier and more motivated young musician!!
Here’s a link to lots of free practice charts you can download if you want to take part in the challenge.
NOTE: on those super busy, over-tired days the child just needs to play SOMETHING on the instrument. This is much better than missing the practice, so just go with it and don’t get worked up that it wasn’t a “real” practice. Doing 100 days of practice stresses consistency above all and the message that practicing every day is part of family life.