Practice Charts 101 - Real Life Organized

This blog post is part 1 of an ongoing blog series called Real Life Organized. Join me as I pull my home and family back to basics, work to become more organized, and celebrate the successes. 

Let's talk practice charts. Do you love them, hate them, use them, or avoid them at all costs? If you are like me you fall into the 'love them' because I am type A personality and need to document, list, check off, and prove how every minute of my day was spent. Okay, so that might be a little exagerated and definitely a lot more of who I was before having 5 little monkeys jumping on their beds, swinging from our trees, and teasing their poor mother, "Can't catch me. Can't catch me!" BUT I still find practice charts very helpful in encouraging honest efficient practice time and teaching personal accountability to my little musical monkeys.

Before having the aforementioned little monkeys my practice charts would've been hand typed, with cutesie graphic arts, professionally printed, laminated and presented to my students in a colorful binder tied with a ribbon and complete with their own set of markers for color coding purposes (again I might be exaggerating just a little bit).

Now that survival mode has caught up to me and practicality and time efficiency is the name of the game, my violin practice charts consist of a cheap notebook, handwritten lines (I don't even use a ruler!), and stickers, pens, markers, pencils or whatever mode of marking off I can scrounge out of my unorganized bottomless desk drawer. But you know what....



I have been using these practice charts for going on 3 years and I have discovered that easy to maintain, simple for young students to follow, and consistency are the 3 most important factors in practice chart success.  The best part is that I know these work from both a violin teacher perspective and a mother perspective because I am both! 

Tip: Assignments on a chart should be varied. Include techinique exercises, memorization expectations, scales, sight reading, metronome, clapping, repetition, free time, and whatever else your violin student needs to work on. 

Parents: Even if your music teacher doesn't give your student a chart, this doesn't mean YOU can't. My own kids love helping me make their charts and figuring out what to put on them according to what they are learning that week. 

Practice Chart for Older Students

My son's piano teacher is working wonders with helping him to navigate his own practice time, figuring out what he needs to work on, and reporting back to her. His practice chart is a piece of paper folded over five times to make six sections. His chart for the week starts out blank, and he records what he does every day.  By the end of the week it is a record according to him, and the best part is that his amazing teacher knows how to read his messy hand writing and self made up shorthand.  


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