The overwhelming majority of books I have seen and reviewed on practice are either aimed at teachers or at more advanced players. The Practicespot series is aimed at younger learners but what about books for complete beginners? Here”s where Susan O’Neill’s Practice Perfect steps in.
There are two notebooks in the Practice Perfect series. Level 1 corresponds to grade 0-1 and level 2 corresponds to grade 1-2. Like our own Music Practice Diary these books are aimed at players of any instrument and seek to give a foundation not just in practice but also in music theory.
Each book is divided into 20 lessons with each lesson having a selection of exercises, activities, cartoons and tips. Every lesson begins with practice notes where the teacher can write down what they want practised following the lesson. To the right of this for every lesson is a practice tip. Many of these seem obvious to the more experienced musician but may not be so if you are a complete beginner. For example, ”play slowly at first”, ”remember to play every day” and ”remember to count”. Beneath this is an activity which will involve the student completing a wordsearch, joint the dots, matching, maze or some other music related activity. Most lessons then have a small piece of musical trivia before ending the page with some manuscript lines.
On the plus side it is very encouraging to see a book aimed so squarely at beginners that discusses practice. If the student can take on board the few simple tips and techniques this will stand them in very good stead in the future. I also very much like the fun way in which the book is presented with lots of cartoons. I do also like the activities which will help to broaden the child’s musical knowledge. I am however concerned that these may detract from actual practice – the child may spend their time doing these instead of practice!
Overall I would recommend this book for beginners, like other diaries and notebooks I have reviewed it is far better than a simple notebook. Whilst I don’t think it will make children ”practice perfect” I do believe it will be a positive step down that road.
Perfect Practice Level 1 by Susan O”Neill, (1994, Faber Music, ISBN: 978-0571514855) is available from:[amazon asin=0571514855&template=htp price]