To understand how young students perceive piano practice, we invited young students between the ages of 7 to 12 to answer a questionnaire. We discovered that participants employed very few practice strategies; the study also showed that the use of effective strategies may not be linked to age and/or level, but rather to the way students learned these strategies. In other words, students of different ages are able to control, regulate, and exploit the application of individual meta-strategies during their practice. This reinforces the notion that students’ cognitive processing may not be correlated with age, as some researchers have suggested, but that proper exposure to these strategies and support in using them may facilitate their use at any age. The project will continue focusing on new variables in relation to effective practice strategies (Jardaneh, 2007).
The use of mental practice, a form of mental imagery skills without physical activity, can be an important tool for piano training. However, a problem in the use of terminology is evident in the pedagogical and empirical literature on mental practice as multiple terms are used interchangeably and many terms are never defined. In order to provide more clarity around mental practice, we are working on producing an empirically based glossary of the key terms, both simple and complex, and a taxonomy to show the hierarchical classification of key terms. Given the benefits of mental practice in learning to play music it is important to develop and maintain language that will facilitate both the understanding of existing literature and the design of future studies on mental practice (Mielke & Comeau, 2015; Mielke, 2017).
The reflective journal has been used in many domains to train undergraduate students for their respective professions. Benefits of using a reflective journal include the development of critical awareness and new perspectives, problem-solving skills, and independent learning skills. The training of undergraduate piano students preparing for a music profession could be enhanced by the addition of journals to assist with their piano practice, specifically when learning new repertoire. A current study is investigating whether we can observe, over a short period of time, a development in reflective thinking skills in the journal entries of undergraduate piano students and if these students perceive benefits from using a journal to assist in their practice (Woronchak & Comeau, 2016; Woronchak, 2016).