Research shows that maximum retention occurs if
repetition--that is, practice--takes place within 24
hours or less. Retention is approximately 90%.
If repetition does not occur until 48 hours later (skip
a day of practice), retention drops off drastically, as
the graph of time vs. retention is a curve rather than
a straight line.
If you wait 72 hours (skip two days), retention is virtually zero. (Material that is already learned is retained longer, of course. I speak here of new material, such as a new piece or a new section of a piece begun very recently.)
Practice should be mindful, purposeful and productive, as well as fun and engaging.
With each lesson - in my weekly notes, I will detail some activities and games that you can initiate at home both at and away from the piano.
Guardians / Parents are always welcome to join us for lesson!.
Often, parents will be invited into the lesson for perhaps 5-10 minutes at least once a month For some students, I will engage with the parent during lesson for up to 15 minutes of the lesson.
Practice should be part of our daily habits, just like brushing our teeth!
Importantly, students should be encouraged to "play" and "explore" on their own at the piano.
Not all practice needs to be structured, nor does it necessarily need to be entirely prescriptive.
Students at young ages enjoy exploring the piano. But so do older students - and adults as well!
As long as students are gentle at the piano (no banging on the keys please!) and students use the techniques and approaches that Shad models in lessons (use the fingertips - watch for caving knuckle joints - please sit tall!) you can't go wrong by spending time at home with your child together on the piano bench.
You found 4 days to practice this week.
Congratulate yourself on being able to carve time for yourself in this way!
Now, set a goal in your mind that is appropriate to your level of
--- what you want to accomplish before your lesson in a few days.
Practice can include:
Scales. Playing with scales in creative ways!
Exploring the piano (gently of course!). Following Shad's specific prescribed notes should happen not less than 3 times per week & always at least once within 24 hours following the lesson.
Think of reviewing repertoire as either a warm-up or a "dessert"!.
Action creates motivation. The more action you take, the more your motivation will grow.
Don't wait to be "motivated to practice"
- keep a designated amount of time for practice - protect it like you might your exercise routine.
What is "spiral learning"?
Practice need not be consistently prescriptive.
For adult learners: on some days, I have enough time for 30+ minutes of practice. But on others, I have only 5 minutes. And that’s ok. As long as you pick a goal - one that is reasonable given the time you have, and pursue that mindfully for 5, 15, 25, even 45 minutes - that is time well spent at the piano.
An ideal week of practice for a busy adult student may look like this:
It is critical to practice within 24 hours following the lesson.
For this reason, I will discuss the best day and time for lesson when I meet a new student.
Cyclical: Students should return to the same topic several times throughout their school career; what was learned once was merely introduced. Shad believes that every musical concept has not less than 12 layers of appreciation, comprehension, mastery, and retention.
Increasing Depth: Each time a student returns to the topic it should be learned at a deeper level and explore more complexity; just because we have exposure or appreciation for something doesn't necessarily mean that we can apply or exercise it. Our brains are designed to reexamine and reimagine what it is that we experience.
Prior Knowledge: A student’s prior knowledge should be utilized when a topic is returned to so that they build from their foundations rather than starting anew. For this reason, Shad uses a "socratic" inspired inquiry based method exploration method alongside other methods of learning - this goes for all students, regardless of your experience or expertise level. Even the youngest learner has a point of reference for ideation. The most advanced pianist will benefit from elemental review of something as simple as the C scale, intervallic note reading, or exploring/enjoying the basics of keyboard topography.
In my policy guide, I recommend
(with young children) parents or guardians will need to be involved directly for perhaps the entire practice session at first. Until after perhaps 3-6 months of study, your help may be needed for some or much of the practice time.
It is important to realize that we should not expect children to carry out their practice entirely by themself until about 8-10 years old - or perhaps until the second or third year of piano lessons. If regular interaction is not possible, Shad may require a student to take two lessons per week at his studio - otherwise reserves the right to refuse to enroll a student for private lessons.
Spend 10 minutes looking at what you did this past week before you leave the house for your lesson. Make a note of what you would like to review or ask a specific question about at lesson.
If doing this is not possible - arrive 5+ minutes early to lesson, settle yourself in my practice room before your lesson starts & take the moment to center your thoughts in as mindful a way as your are able to manage.
Warm up for 5 minutes with a chord progression and / or a scale that you have already mastered. Look at your fingers - are your knuckle joints caving in? Then attend to that in the warm up.
The world is not perfect - so if this is what you accomplish today - pat yourself on the back!
If time & your attention is your privilege today - spend 10 minutes reviewing what you did yesterday & another 10 minutes exploring something new or interested.
Finish your practice by playing one or more of your old-favorites!
Day after lesson
Spend 5 minutes looking at something we did that was "new to you" or that you felt renewed*** about.
***See below regarding my "spiral learning theory".
Then say aloud to yourself "this should be my goal today..." and reflect upon how to achieve this specific (very specific!) goal.
In a perfect world, you will have 25-45 minutes today to sit down and dig in to more than one goal.
Take a moment to reflect upon:
Was that a realistic goal?
Why or why not?
Day 5 & 6
Keep in mind that having a goal is the best way to use practice time mindfully.
Are you able to play what you practiced well - (in your mind, according to criteria YOU set )
do so reasonably consistently,
then what you are doing is working!
Make a note of this (literally, write it down in your notebook - mindful reflection is important to progress)
please share this with Shad at your next lesson.
It's very helpful for me to know what works for you so I can continue to hone in on the best possible lesson structure that is unique to YOU and your interests as a musician.