When I was on the faculty at the Colorado Suzuki Institute under the direction of Gail Seay (another hero of mine!), she did something that totally blew my mind.
At an afternoon concert she asked those people who had practiced every day for the past year to come on stage. The stage was full of people of all ages. Then she asked those who had done two years without missing a day to step forward. Then 3 years, 4 years, etc. If I remember correctly, there were a couple of students who had done this for 6 years running!
She asked anyone in the audience who wanted to take on this challenge to come join the group on stage. I found myself on stage! Oh My God! What have I done?? To my great amazement, I found myself on the very same stage the following year, having practiced every single day of that year. I had done it! What a feeling! I noticed that year that my students’ practices were longer and more consistent.
I remembered back to a conversation I had with my mother, who was a remarkable teacher of high school English. I was complaining that my students didn’t practice enough. Her reply was “Well, Martha, do you practice consistently?” I had to admit that I did not, and she said that until I could believe I could do it myself, my students would not take me seriously.
What I learned from that conversation was that my students knew if I practiced or not. I didn’t have to tell them. They could intuit it. They sensed a lack of confidence in me due to my inept conviction. I was a hypocrite, and they knew it! I am back to practicing every day, and I love what this does to my teaching.