Using Practice Pads
With regard to the recent discussions about Practice Pads, I wish to add a word of caution. Please be careful to make sure that only a small or modest percentage of your class time is spent with individual students processing content on their individual Practice Pads. Part of the dynamic of the Simply Music shared-learning environment occurs specifically and solely as a result of Observatory Learning. The concept is straight-forward – students’ capacity for intake, processing and assimilation (including the fundamental neurological connectivity stuff), occur in a particular and powerful way when students are free to purely observe the process of learning as it occurs in others. The reasons for this are addressed, at length, elsewhere.
In contrast, having each student, with individual Practice Pads and processing information individually, is not actually a Shared or Group Lesson, and not one where Observatory Learning is fully implemented. It is actually more like the traditional group approach, whereby each student is at their own keyboard, linked to a central console that can be listened in to by the teacher – in other words, a Private Lesson being had by a number of people, but all at the same time.
I am not suggesting that the Forum posts as shared by our teachers indicate that this is happening, but I need to make sure that you are conscious of this, thoughtful and careful about ensuring that an appropriate balance is achieved.
Ramona H., Alaska
Your point regarding processing individually, and its impact on Observatory Learning is well taken. In my very first lessons this week with several young children and the three Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder teen-agers, we did use the Practice Pads to find the black key patterns, the C’s, etc.
I also found that I could hold a keyboard in front of me so they could all see it, yet I could watch their faces to make sure they were indeed focused on the keyboard and were tuned in. I think that’s the big benefit I noticed. With the FASD kids in particular, it’s a little harder for me to see their faces when we’re gathered around the keyboard and one may be off to my side, and at least at our first lesson, I felt it was important to watch them to see if I was communicating to them on their level.
We did go from the Practice Pad to the piano and did some round-robin learning there. I did a bit of back and forth from piano to our chairs, which I think was effective in keeping the attention of the students. I noticed that with my adult Shared Lesson, they definitely learned by watching those before them at the piano. They made the whole process look so easy! However, I can see the danger of it leading to several individual lessons happening concurrently, so I will heed your word of caution regarding the Practice Pads.
Kerry V., Australia
I have found the Practice Pads to be a most powerful tool when I have the students show other students what we have just covered on the pads.
Once families are comfortable with each other, I even have children show adults other than their parent, and then the adult also show the child. They all love being able to show the other what we are going over. While this is happening I am monitoring the process with them, spending time with the couples and listening to their conversations about the piece. We then do it all together on the pads. I share with the group what conversations were had as they invariably have different ways of showing and explaining and this helps them see it all in a different light to theirs. This has been most successful. If the students use the Practice Pads only for themselves, as if it were an individual lessons, they don’t enjoy the process at all. They even
complain or whine when I get the pads out. In contrast, when I say we are showing each other, they are much more accepting and ready for the next step.
This process may seem like it takes a long time, however it doesn’t, and as Neil says, it is only a small portion of the whole lesson.
Cindy B., Illinois
A way that I use the pads is when I’m dealing with a student who will not slow down at the piano but insists on rushing ahead, using their ear to lead them, is to use the Practice Pad. It prevents any premature ear involvement.