If you’re a music teacher, you’ve definitely had the experience of your students not practicing. Have you ever had an experience where your students said they practiced, but they obviously didn’t get any better? Both cases happen far too often. You may have tried everything to get them to practice including stickers, accountability charts, getting the parents involved and more, but for some students it’s always a struggle.
Lessons are for Teaching Concepts, Not Practicing
How often do you go to a lesson with your students just to practice with them? If they didn’t get any better from the last week (and sometimes they actually get worse), there’s really not a whole lot of options. Practicing with them is the only way they’ll improve, if only by a little.
What ends up happening is the best (and sometimes only) practice they get is with you, their teacher. You might be saying to yourself, “if they just practiced like this every day, they would be amazing in no time!” Unfortunately a lot of students just don’t catch on and they are likely to eventually quit, dislike piano (because they aren’t any good), and be one of the adults that “took piano as a kid”, but can’t play a thing.
Something needs to change. Something big. A disruption in the music teaching industry needs to come along that can fix the incredible problem of students not practicing.
Well, it’s here and it’s called practice coaching.
What is Practice Coaching?
A practice coach is a teacher that can meet with a student multiple times a week and just practice with them. They don’t need long. Just 15 minutes multiple times a week can do wonders. We know practice has to happen daily for success. When a teacher practices with a student daily, or at least multiple times a week, they have to practice, and they have to practice well.
The Greatest Musicians had Practice Coaches
Most of the genius musicians of the past had practice coaches. They just weren’t called practice coaches. Who was Mozart’s practice coach? His dad of course. Beethoven? His dad (although let’s not be like him). How about Rachmaninoff? His teacher lived with him. Today, children with musical parents who are involved with practice tend to do much better than those without.
Seems like having a teacher as a practice coach is a good idea right? The problem is execution. If you’re the teacher, do you want to have a daily lesson (sometimes only 15 minutes) with each student? Do you even have time for that? What about the cost to the parents? It would be astronomical. If you drive to your students, 15 minutes would definitely not be worth your time.
We haven’t even talked bout the scheduling nightmare this would be. If the student goes to you, the parents would have to take time out of EVERY DAY to take them to you for practice. There would be rescheduling of course as there always is. It would be crazy.
It may sound like these are insurmountable problems, but they’re not. Not now. A new business has started to address all of these challenges. It’s called YouPractice.net.
Students can sign up for a subscription starting as low as $50/month. All practice sessions are held online via Skype or FaceTime. $50/month will buy the student two, 15 minute practice sessions a week with a real teacher. If the parents can afford $125/month that will pay for 5 practice sessions a week.
Not every student can afford that, but to think that you could have a teacher with the student daily for only $125/month is pretty impressive.
What About Scheduling?
This is the genius behind what YouPractice.net is doing. Instead of scheduling times, the student can use their sessions whenever. They just text a given phone number and YouPractice.net claims that within 5 minutes the student will be called via Skype or FaceTime for the practice session to start.
Pretty cool right?
Is This a Replacement for Lessons?
At YouPractice.net they make it clear that the practice coaching is a supplement for lessons not a replacement. Students will work with the same teacher they have now, and just get practice coaching on top of the lessons. In the practice coaching sessions they are instructed how to practice, where to stop and start, what speed to play things at etc. They are kept on task just like you, their teacher would do if you were practicing with them.
Practice coaches aren’t assigned and each session can be with a different practice coach. Each practice coach is a teacher in their own right. Most are college age students, because it’s important to keep prices very low. Each coach is trained on correct ways to practice and how to make the most out of their 15 minute sessions.
Does This Stop the Student From Learning to Practice on Their Own?
Actually it’s the opposite. Practice coaching may be something that doesn’t need to continue indefinitely. Practice makes perfect and that means practicing how to practice as well. You may be very specific with your students with what they are to practice every week, but if they don’t do it, they won’t get better at practicing.
Now that the student has someone with them while they practice they can apply those practice principles every day. Eventually correct practice will come easily to them even when they are alone.
Does it work?
Ok so YouPractice.net is pretty new, so has anyone tried it? Does it work? Let me tell you my experience. I had actually already thought of doing something like this. I tried it out with one of my students. Just for a week before a big recital. I charged more than YouPractice.net did so the parents could only afford a week (and it was a lot of work I didn’t have time to do it for more than a week). Let me tell you. My student progressed more in that one week than he did in the previous couple of months.
I’m really excited to suggest this new service to my students. It’s good for them and it makes lessons more enjoyable and productive. And of course it will increase retention! Students that are succeeding will study music longer.
Right now YouPractice.net is only accepting piano students for practice sessions. I bet if they do well though, they’ll add more instruments in the future.
Now your students can get started with 20% off their first month with the coupon code “ymlfeb”. It expires at the end of February, though, so make sure you suggest it at your next lesson! Have your students try it out and comment here on how it went.
What do you think? Excited to suggest it to your students? Let us know in the comments.