It's back to our regular routines and I encourage students who have taken the Practice Challenge to renew their commitment to regular practice. Many received bonus points for performing in and/or attending concerts.
Parents, there is a book in the waiting room which has a chapter in it just for you! The book is titled The Practice Revolution: Getting great results from the six days between music lessons by Philip Johnston. Interestingly, the author includes a paragraph on when NOT to help. I have the chapter marked if you are interested in reading it.
My simple advice to students is: just read, study and DO everything on the page, and I'll probably be happy and mark your piece "OK". There is a lot to pay attention to, especially as students get further along in their studies. I refuse to "spoon-feed" anyone for very long and appreciate the extra help parents (or others) are willing to provide in between lessons. Often, I will circle a few measures for what I call '"target practice", so if you hear the same music over and over, THAT'S OKAY! It might make you wish you had a Clavinova with the headphone option, though. Wind instrument players were told to "take it out to the woodshed" for that purpose; that's where we get the term "woodshedding" (as in, 'take it home & woodshed that part').
Some encouraging remarks you might offer:
"Hey, you played that piece a lot smoother than yesterday!"
"I like that slow piece! Would you please play it again for me?" (-- and then stay and Listen to it)
"What is this piece about?" If there are lyrics, read them!
"How does this music make you feel?"
Or if things are not going so well:
"Sounds like you are having a rough time with that piece. Are you doing your target practice?"
"Maybe this is a piece you don't like so much. Would you tell me why?"
Here's a bit from The Practice Revolution (page 300):
...Parents can ensure that the communication between studio and home is complete by having the student reflect back to them the essential information for the week ahead.
The students should be able to explain exactly what their tasks are [MW: I usually write a few notes on the page] together with the practice techniques that were recommended to complete them. They should also be able to answer questions about key points that were raised last lesson, together with any details of upcoming deadlines or performances.
I'm looking forward to choosing pieces for the Spring Recital in May and to see the progress all of my students will make in the coming months!