It's happened again. You've had a very warm-fuzzy and satisfying practice with your teacher, and you and your child go home feeling very pleased with the experience. So pleased, in fact, that you've decided to wait until the following day to get your child's instrument back out--Except you didn't take into account that your eldest has an away meet tomorrow and you realize late at night in bed that you didn't get to your 5 year old's practice. The next day, a work function eats into your family schedule more than anticipated, and the following day, a very demanding school project needs a significant amount of your attention and guidance.
The weekend comes around like a breath of fresh air and you finally get a chance to pull out the violin with your 5 year old. However, by this time, the material and objectives that you covered in the lesson 3 days ago no longer feels fresh or secure. You and your kiddo come away from the practice feeling frustrated and maybe a little confused. Your confidence a little shaken, you dread practicing again tomorrow, but you'll slog through because your next lesson is in just a few days! Later that week, perhaps you got in more practice time, and perhaps you didn't.
... How was your practice week, Chili?
Either way, when asked next lesson, "How was your practice week?" you know that you won't be able to feel completely proud of the work you did, having missed at least half of the practice week.
Does this sound familiar? If so, don't worry-- we've all been there, figuring out how to fit it all in. Carving out time for your child's practice can seem near-impossible. But perhaps all you need is a little practice fitting it in! Let's use these 100 days as a way to drop old behaviors and to make new, positive habits!
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." -Lao Tzu
Guidelines for the Challenge
The goal is to practice for 100 days in a row. After 100 Days in a row, you’ll find the new habit will largely be formed.
If you observe a Day of Rest, you may practice 6 days in a row, take your Day of Rest, and then practice another 6 days in a row.
Lessons, both Private and Group, do not count as practice for the day.
Fill in the practice chart every day. Missed days “break the chain," starting you back at Day 1. Progress will be tracked in the studio as well as at home.
Recognition: 100 days accomplished in a row will earn a spot on a plaque in the studio.
Tips and Ideas to help you succeed:
Establish Accountability: Tell your friends and colleagues about your 100 Day Practice goal, and even post online. Social media is an incredible platform where you can check in daily for accountability, logging as you go (which is also extremely rewarding upon reflection from the 100-day summit). And if you have created an audience surrounding this event, you will more than likely have a built-in cheering squad! How motivating!
Be the journalist at your child’s lesson and write down exactly what, why and how to practice. 100 days of unfocused practice isn’t very useful. Keep a journal of all the good things that happen in your home practice during the challenge. This is for future motivation and the memories! This can also be recorded on social media, if you'd like to share your journey with others.
To make sure that practice happens, use a trigger or cue. This is a daily activity that leads you to practice like practicing after breakfast. Visual triggers work well too.
Set a daily number of practice tasks or objectives instead of a set time for practice. Children who have to practice for a set number of minutes quickly learn how to waste time.
Remember that when starting the Challenge, less is more. Suzuki said that 3 minutes, 5 times a day is ideal for beginners. Remember that there are always several 3-5 minute time slots, in any day. In fact, micro practices are perfect for learning to focus.
Celebrate the milestones along the way with a small family celebration! Consider starting your child 5 or under with a 10 Day Chart. Decide together on how to celebrate each milestone. Little rewards along the way can keep us going. The difference in motivation is HUGE between families who celebrate practice milestones and those who don’t.
There are many things a child can do to practice when away from the instrument. Whether they are sick, in the car, or on a trip that didn't allow for an instrument, here are some examples of things they can do to practice: Air bowing to the CD, singing the songs, clapping rhythms, active listening-paying attention to trouble spots while following along with the music, etc. If you need more, ask your teacher!
There will be obstacles to daily practice: Illness, Parties, Sports days, School events, Holidays, etc.
Dr. Suzuki said, “Practice only on the days you eat.” If your child is too sick to keep foods down, that is the only exception. This system is “On Your Honor.”
"Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection." - Mark Twain
Achieving the 100-day goal is a commitment on the part of the parent as well as the student. Just a little bit of good change on a daily basis will take you far. Remember, the choice to take lessons is the choice to make a lifestyle change. Being a part of this challenge is a great way to build strong daily habits and to prove to yourselves that you're capable of that commitment.
Doesn't this chart look super fun?! You can color each spot or plant a sticker for every day practiced! You can also visit this link to check out some other fun practice chart options.
Also, as a way to walk alongside my students and celebrate this activity, I will be joining in on the challenge-- My name will be on the wall, too! Whoo! Talk about accountability! I will also be posting regularly to log my progress, and welcome you to join me on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtags #100daypracticechallenge and #chilidogstrings to record your own progress during the 100 days!
I am really excited for everybody! Happy practicing!