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String Department Coordinator, Violin/Viola Faculty

EFFECTIVE PRACTICING Class with Timothy Hager

Under the direction of New Music School String Department Coordinator and faculty member Timothy Hager, this new class teaches students how to improve their practicing through Goal setting, Contextual awareness, Organization, Prioritization, Efficiency, Self-awareness, Self Direction, Self testing, Habituation.

"I noticed the students becoming more confident in not only giving, but receiving constructive criticism from peers and adults. Waverley really learned to zero in on the minute details in order to fine tune pieces and scales during her daily practice." -New Music School parent

Goal setting

Many students take lessons simply because their parents value music as part of a well rounded education.  This course will help each student learn to develop and maintain their own short term goals like learning individual pieces, as well as long term goals like winning auditions.  

Contextual awareness

What are you working on?  Is it a technical exercise or a piece for performance?  Are there recordings available? How does the difficulty compare with other things you have worked on?  Do you know other musicians working on the same thing?


There's never enough time in the day.  Students regularly try to use the excuse that they didn't have time to practice everything they were assigned.  Occasionally, that turns out to be objectively true but more often, it's the result of poor time management. Practice must be thoughtfully scheduled on a daily basis and each session should be structured to make meaningful progress on all assignments within a reasonable amount of time.


Long practice sessions are good because they demonstrate commitment, but how you practice is infinitely more important than how long.  Auditions are decided based on how the musicians perform, not by how much time they spent getting there.

Saturday afternoons

  • 12:30-1:30pm Feb 2-May 4, 2019

  • Open for all instruments

  • Tuition: $400

Student Guidelines

  • Enrolled in private lessons at NMS

  • 8 years of age or older

  • Mozart house

  • Recommended by private teacher


Every practice session includes some amount of unproductive time.  How much, determines the quality of each session and significantly impacts our progress.  The most efficient practice often seems the most tedious at first, but the rewards of reducing the wasted time are immediate and transformative.

Self awareness

Are you practicing to be good or are you practicing to be done?  Playing on ”autopilot” is so ineffective, it doesn't even quality as practicing.  Real progress comes from a full awareness of how you sound and a constant effort to improve toward your goals.

Self direction

Most of the time spent working toward improvement happens at home, not in the lesson.  Teachers are accustomed to repeating instructions week after week, but students who can learn to “be their own teacher” at home with regard to things they have already been told will be in a much better position to learn new things in their lessons.  

Self testing

It sounded so good at home, why isn't it working in my lesson?

The only way to get good at performing is to practice performing as much as possible.  Once you think your piece is ready for your teacher, test yourself. Record yourself at home and play for your family and friends to see how your work holds up.


Practice makes permanent.  From the very first time you play something, you are forming habits for how you will play it the next time.  Your body and mind will follow those habits, whether they are good or bad, until they get replaced with new habits.