One of my jobs is playing violin with the Wichita Symphony www.wso.org and one of the major perks is getting to meet major artists like Sarah Chang. When my daughter and I spoke to her after the concert I asked her how much she practiced at age 5 (which is how old my daughter is) and she said only about 30 minutes, but it was every day. My daughter was really surprised, because this isn’t much time at all for someone who sounded so amazing in the concert she had just heard.
(here I am in my symphony black with my little girl Niecy, and the amazing Sarah Chang after our Sunday performance)
I told someone this and they said that Sarah Chang is so gifted, so she didn’t need to practice as much. While, being clever does help learn violin, I do not believe in being “gifted” or “talented.” I believe, as Suzuki (who coined the phrase) did, in talent education. Truly, anyone can learn to play a musical instrument to some degree. We all do not end up sounding like Sarah Chang, but we all have so much potential that is unleashed when we practice daily. It takes 21 days to create a new habit, and I encourage my students to approach practicing the same way I approach exercising (which I detest) which is to do it for only 5 minutes, and after 5 minutes it is okay to stop, but you just may want to continue.
Half of the struggle with children is getting the instrument or books out. String Swings are great for keeping those violins out and ready to play whenever the mood strikes, and it’s easy to keep those piano books open to the correct page. After my last students leave for the day, I set up my daughter’s books this way, so that she might walk by and be reminded…this has actually worked once or twice!
Have a Good Day and don’t forget to practice (every day) and if you need some inspiration, listen to some of Sarah Chang’s beautiful recordings and think about how 30 minutes changed her life! ~Ms. Judy
Tracey Baetzel says
Nice piece and clear advice! So true that getting started is a big hurdle for little ones, and every day makes a big difference. It helps to have a reminder (as well as remind our students and parents) that it’s all about the basics. Thanks!
ms. judy says
Thanks Tracey! Having my own child to practice with daily really changes my perspective!