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Music, Performing Arts and Rosenshine: Require and monitor independent practice

Catherine Barker

06 June 2019
  • How do you monitor the practice that students are undertaking outside of curriculum time?
  • Are your practice rooms regularly used? If so, what number of students from each key stage use these?
  • What support and guidance do you provide to your parents to help them to guide and monitor independent practice?
  • Have you written in your expectations regarding practice into your peripatetic lessons home school contract?

Some students don’t have an environment conducive to undertaking practice at home. For this reason, it is important that we consider how we are supporting them to work independently. If you are lucky enough to have a suite of practice rooms, or more than one studio space, it is worth thinking about how this facility can be used to ensure it is having maximum impact. For example, it might be worth considering whether students are more likely to practice effectively alone, in a pair or in a small group.

The use of practice ‘vlogging’ or written practice diaries for peripatetic lessons/GCSE/A Level/BTEC musicians can be a regular part of homework, encouraging students to plan their practice time, set goals and celebrate success. There are numerous apps from the ABRSM which can support instrumental practice, and a growing number of free apps on the App Store, such as Practice Buddy.

Would it be worthwhile having fixed times in which GCSE and A level students practice independently in the department during the week? These could be enforced ‘learning recovery’ times if you don’t feel their practice at home is having enough impact.

A home guide or a video guide on your school website could help parents as they support the learning of their children. Importantly, reinforcing regular practice is key, and thanking parents for their input goes a long way to recognising their hugely valuable contribution! Increased parental engagement can be supported by school-home contact between peripatetic teachers and parents, either through a termly report or annual parent’s evening. Or, a more informal conversation at a low-stakes after school concert encourages celebration of progress and helps to develop good buy-in.

Do your peripatetic teachers monitor practice? Would they report it to you if they felt there was a regular problem with a student not practising in between lessons? If not, it is worth having a conversation with your peripatetic teachers to make it clear that this is your expectation.
It’s also worth considering rewards for students who are making excellent progress during practice time, or have spent the most time in school practising.

Share how you require and model individual practice – tweet @United_Music1 with your ideas