How much should students practice?

  • For Level I students, we recommend 15 minutes daily.
  • For Level II students, we recommend 20–30 minutes daily.

How should students practice?

  • Pick a comfortable and non-distracting space. Let this be your regular practice space.
  • Divide your time.
  • Pick spots to work on, rather than playing through the whole piece.
  • Keep a practice log; this helps you keep your focus.

What if things don't sound good?

  • This is normal, especially at the start.
  • Things might sound raw and scratchy during practice—it's okay!
  • If you're using the bow. . . (1) Is your bow straight?, (2) Where's your point of contact?, (3) Are you using too much/little weight?
  • If you're getting frustrated, take a break!

How do I encourage a String Project practice-er?

  • Ask them to play something for you (even if it's just a scale or open strings).
  • Recognize their progress. . . they may not sound like Yo Yo Ma yet, but they are probably improving.
  • Celebrate little things!
  • Avoid judgments—find something positive to say, even if it's just, "Great job for practicing today!"

A 20-minute Sample Practice Plan from Miss Williams, NKU String Project TA:

Below are some suggestions for what an effective, 20-minute practice session might look like.

  • 2 minutes playing open strings. This is as simple as your child playing each string several times without putting any left hand fingers down. This gives them a chance to think about their bow hold and get a good, clear sound.
  • 3 minutes playing a scale. This gives your child a chance to think about where to put their fingers without having to read music.
  • 6 minutes playing a difficult section from one of their pieces. Encourage you child to just focus on one measure at a time, making sure they get it right before going on. A good way to start learning a hard passage is to put down the bow and pluck the instrument – that way, your child can figure out what their left hand is supposed to be doing. Once their fingers are playing the right notes, they can practice the passage with the bow again.
  • 6 minutes playing another difficult section. This could be from the same piece, or a different piece altogether.
  • 3 minutes playing all the way through a piece, from start to finish. Your child may want to play all the way through the piece they just practiced, or maybe they want to play an old piece they really liked! Either way, playing a whole song just for fun is a great way to end a practice session.
Visualize Your Practice Time - see text above