I have been teaching for over 4 years now, and it had never occurred to me to use the practice pads in the Private Lessons. After the presentation Samali gave at our conference here in Western Australia on the use of these, it absolutely brought it home to me how powerful a tool it is to ensure that we truly remain pattern based in our presenting of the pieces, which is after all, at the core of the Simply Music approach.
It is difficult to gauge exactly what senses the student is using to retain what we are unfolding if there is more than one of the senses being stimulated at the same time ie they could be using their ‘ear’ totally in extreme cases (and I can think of a few of those immediately in my lot!). By delaying the sound content longer it naturally means they focus on the pattern itself. I often find that the ‘fast’ learners have more of a challenge in long term recall and feel that the use of the pad will automatically assist them to take one step at a time (slow the process down), and therefore enable a deeper learning to take place. As to why it causes a deeper learning I suspect it is because the generative part of the process (the doing of it) can only be executed by knowing the pattern for the pattern itself and not how it sounds.
A few Forum posts of late have prompted me to write and remind you that there are a number of past Simpedia posts describing the importance of using practice pads (whether students learn privately or in shared lessons) and some suggestions as to how to make this process happen effectively in lessons. I have personally shared my experiences using practice pads on a number of previous occasions.
I cannot emphasize enough how useful the practice pads have been and continue to be in my studio. My students often ask to use or reach for the pads without my request. As I write this two young students (that share a lesson) come to mind – they always want to process on the pad before they add sound to their playing.
There have been occasions where I have used the pad even before getting to Dreams. For example I have a student with Cerebral Palsy who found it very challenging playing a C chord. We tried using fingers1 and 5 only but he became so frustrated with himself. I suggested ‘turning off the sound’ and we tried just getting the physical action of what he need to do on the back side of the practice pad first ( I use the back side of the pads very often). Then we turned the pad over to the ‘right side’ up adding the keyboard terrain and correct positioning of his hand on the keys. When we finally moved to the piano he played a beautiful C chord with all three fingers of his RH. He learnt from then on that the practice pad would be a friend to him throughout his learning journey with Simply Music.
I have also used it with young students learning the FSS. They are familiar with the use of the pad from their very first lessons, expect to use it and know exactly how and when to use the pads at home. I coach the use of the pads in the lesson with students and parents alike (in fact the parents are more familiar using the pads than the actual piano keyboard in my lessons as I have not enough time to hear them at the piano as well as their children). This sets up an example of how and what I expect them to do during practice sessions at home.
Whip out those pads and get your students processing on them. I promise you won’t look back!