A question I get from parents quite frequently is, “Little Johnny is only practicing what you wrote down for him in his practice notebook and I don’t feel like he’s practicing enough. What should we do to help him practice more?” Well, do I have a solution for you!!

First of all, I would like to say that practicing only what I have written down in your child’s practice notebook is sometimes all we have! When your child is starting out on violin (or any instrument, for that matter), if it takes your child only 10 minutes to go through everything written down, then that’s ok! As long as you are working on creating an environment for your little one to get in the habit to take time during the day to practice, then I am one happy teacher. To make it a productive practice time, on the other hand, could possibly take more time in your lesson. I will most likely dig into this subject in another post.

Secondly, what I write down in your child’s notebook is not all they need to work on. It’s also not all that they know! If we have been in lessons for quite some time, then I know your child has more than one song under their belt. Picking which song to play from our polished piece could be something that’s a bit more challenging. Well lucky for you, I have a solution fun game idea!!

What you’ll need:

  • two cans
  • many large popsicle sticks
  • markers

I was able to make some refried beans the other night, and I just had to make sure I saved the cans. I also was able to find some large popsicle sticks at the local Walmart in the craft section. As long as they’re big enough to write on where you can read it, then you’ll be good!


Write each song that your child has accomplished on the popsicle sticks. You can even separate out each variation of the Twinkles.


Once your student starts to move into each book, you can color code the top of the sticks. I have Suzuki book 1 sticks colored red, book 2 is purple, etc. The more songs your student accomplishes, the more sticks there will be! This also will help you in the long run. No need for you kiddo to say, “but I don’t have anything to practice!!!” They can pick several out each day.


Every day your child practices, choose a stick (or 2 or 3!) out of one of the cans. Once your child has practiced that piece, they can place it in the next can.

By the end of the week, all of the songs should be in the next can. Then repeat!


IMPORTANT NOTE: make sure your child is trying to improve the piece they pulled out of the can! Just running through it once could work, but what if they are playing something incorrectly (i.e. bowing, fuzzy tone, notes, finger placement, lack of memorization)? Even just choosing one of these issues to work through will work wonders!!