SmartMusic, Practice Reports, and Truthfulness: A Response

In James Lund’s most recent blog post he asked: “Have you ever handed your students a piece of paper asking them to document how many minutes they’ve practiced in the week?”

In James’ experience, “nothing turns otherwise honest kids to deceit quicker.” While James’ post went on to describe how improvements in SmartMusic 2011 make it possible to objectively measure practice time, I thought it might be fun to also devote some time to telling stories of the way it was before SmartMusic 2011.

To start things off, I have a story from a coworker who wishes to remain anonymous. We’ll call her Renee.

When Renee was a girl her parents decided she would play the violin. Was it this because she was particularly captivated by the violin? No. This was because they had a violin.

Renee never really took to the instrument and found practice to be nearly unendurable. Each night, after dinner, Renee had to go to the kitchen stove, set the timer for 30 minutes, then return to her room to practice the violin while the rest of the family watched TV in the living room.

As this was many years before SmartMusic, there was no accompaniment, and Renee had no idea when she was doing things right or wrong. There was just Renee, and the violin, and the timer.

Before long Renee embraced deception. She’d find an opportunity to sneak back in the kitchen and adjust the clicking timer so that her 30 minutes would end sooner. Then she’d continue her “practice,” scratching away at the violin she never learned to enjoy, until the timer dinged, and she was free to join the rest of the family in the living room.

We can only assume the sounds of her practice were less than pleasing to the rest of the family too, because it wasn’t until after Renee’s year of violin ended that her older sister confided something that everyone in the household but Renee knew: most the TV shows they enjoyed were exactly thirty minutes long.

Do you have any stories of you or your students fibbing about practice time? Better yet, any stories about how SmartMusic has transformed your use of practice reports? Please feel free to change the names to protect the not-so-innocent, and share them by clicking on “Comments” below!

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