Research tells us that mental practice works our brains almost as much as real practice. And unlike real practice, you won’t get tired from mental practice and you can do it anywhere. To mentally practice (I sometimes call this pretend cello/violin/viola), you can hold your instrument but no bow. Finger the notes and pretend to bow. Do this while singing the notes as well. It works really well, it’s fun and it helps brains learn.
This one is better for children who are fully capable of setting themselves up to play. Tell your child that they can practice anywhere – anywhere at all! You will come and find them and you will hunt them by following the music. Some fun places to hide: in a closet, in the bath tub, etc. Those with bigger instruments will have to be a little more creative. It is also fun to switch the roles and have your child try to find you!
Communication! Never ask a question that can be answered with a no. Instead of “Do you want to practice now” say “It’s time to practice now” or even better, you just go play their instrument. They will come wandering in to see what you are doing! If you want them to work on a repetition of something you can say, “How many times do you think you can play that?”
Sticky note practicing! Write down your practicing goals on sticky notes, one note per task. Then place all the sticky notes on the wall and read through them for your child. Let your child pick one at a time, or have them put them in the order they want. This is a great way to let your child feel in control of their practicing, while still accomplishing your goals for the week!