Mr. Kamp's Practice Philosophy
Practicing an instrument is like taking a vitamin- you do it every day to stay in good (musical) health.
Studies show that ALL learning happens the same way: you repeat and reinforce skills or knowledge which then become habits or patterns of thought and behavior.
Whether you're working on spelling words, studying times tables, working toward a belt in Tae Kwon Do, learning a new piece of music, or even trying out a new video game, you learn and improve the same way.
So, like a vitamin, practicing every day, even if just a little bit, will make you better at your instrument. If you forget to take a vitamin, should you take all seven on Saturday morning? NO, it will not help the same way! You will get more benefit out of finding the time to practice, even a little bit, every day.
The idea of repetition, reinforcement, and habits is true whether you are paying attention to it or not- unwanted habits can get reinforced as easily as wanted habits. So, if you learn a song "wrong" with an F# when the music calls for an F, and keep practicing it with F#, you'll become an expert at playing it "wrong." More repetitions don't always make it better, just more strongly reinforced.
The mindful, thoughtful, careful repetition of doing it every day is what enables the learning to take hold.
PARENTS: Please help your band student to remember to practice at home.
In my years in Berkeley Heights, I have found that the students that are most successful in band make the time to practice every day. There are several strategies I'd like to share:
Make a regular time to to practice on your daily schedule; it can be a different time every day, but it should be on the schedule. As the time gets longer, it may be easier to break up the amount into smaller sessions- practicing 5 minutes two or three times a day is just as valuable, and often more valuable, than trying to do it all at once. You are mentally and physically fresher in shorter, more focused efforts.
Some students practice one session before school and one after school; some do it right after school and just before bed, others practice before and after dinner.
One of the best strategies is to treat practicing as homework (which it is!) When you take out your backpack, take out your instrument. Practice for 5 minutes, then do you writing. Pick up your instrument and do 5 more minutes, then pick up the math homework. Do your science or social studies, then play the instrument 5 more minutes. The switching off between activities gives a mental and physical break and also stimulates the brain to coordinate and integrate learning and higher thinking levels.
There is a short list of practice tips written by the people who created "Warner Band Expressions," one of our band texts, on the "Parent Information" page of my website.
You'll also find "Practice Tips" adopted and revised by the Berkeley Heights Music Department on the parent page.