Weekly Practice Updates

  • Practicing is the key to your child's success in orchestra. Students should practice an average of ten minutes each day. Please read these weekly practice updates to help stay informed about what your children should be working on each week.

  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #22

     

    In today's rehearsal, we got up to measure 24 in Medieval Dance again - the same as last week but it's getting better and better!  The next section at m. 25 has some fast moving notes for violin 2 and viola, so those students should definitely be practicing that section.  The part after that will feature cellos and basses getting a turn at the melody, so those students should put their focus there.

     

    We are also starting a new song, Ninja.  This song depicts a Ninja creeping through the audience, complete with clever vocalizations by the orchestra.  It is a very cool Asian-inflected sound and I know your kids will love playing it!  I'm including a video below of another school orchestra playing this song.

     

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!)  Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #21

     

    In today's rehearsal, we practiced Medieval Dance and it is coming along nicely!  We got up to measure 24 in the rehearsal, while in lessons many groups have gotten farther in the song.  This particular song sort of repeats itself at the end, so once students get just a little farther than we are at right now, they will have learned all the notes they need to know.  

     

    It's so important that your children keep up with practicing consistently.  Some students are finding it helpful to write in notes or fingerings.  While this is not a great long term solution, it can be effective for helping students learn to play a song and feel more confident.  This would be a good time to check in with your child and see if he/she would find that helpful.  I am happy to help with this in lessons as well.

     

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!)  Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #20

     

    Congratulations to your children on a fantastic performance at the District Orchestra concert last night!  You should all be very proud of their accomplishments.  I also hope you were inspired by watching the older students perform on such a high level.

     

    With this concert behind us, we will focus on our new song Medieval Dance.  Most groups are up to around measure 26, and we will start to rehearse this song at next week's rehearsal.  I am very excited to put this song together!  Within a few weeks we will start to practice what may be our final song for the school year.

     

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!)  Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #19

     

    In today's rehearsal, we continued working on Medieval Dance.  Due to various reasons, a few groups have not gotten past measure 9 in lessons, so we were limited to just going up to that point.  Students are still getting accustomed to the new rhythms in this song with it being in a 3/4 time signature.

     

    We also played all the way through Batman and Cripple Creek and I think we are ready for the District Orchestra concert!  

     

    Please encourage your children to practice over the break if they are able to.  It will be great to come back after the break ready to jump back in, especially with the District Orchestra rehearsal and concert coming up soon!

     

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!)  Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #18

     

    In today's rehearsal, we put the finishing touches on Batman and it sounds awesome!  The students were doing a great job counting all their rests, and even playing the ending with dynamics!  I'm so excited to present this song to you.  We also played through Cripple Creek, which we will be playing at the District Orchestra concert.  We will continue to hone this song to make it as great as it can be, but I was happy to see that most students really remembered how to play this one!

     

    We also played through just a bit of Medieval Dance.  It is so interesting to watch and hear the students try to play in this new time signature - they are definitely doing their best but it still feels a little awkward.  Hopefully soon I will be able to post a lesson video for this song, but for now, students should just do their best to get comfortable with their notes and we'll continue to work on it in lessons and rehearsals.

     

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!)  Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #17

     

    In today's rehearsal, we succeeded in playing through every part of Batman even though we have not yet played it from beginning to end.  The middle section that has all the rests is coming along really nicely; I was so pleased to see the students really counting in their heads, listening and watching me to start and stop each little melody at the correct time!  We also practiced the coda, which is the ending of the song.  It has a really cool crescendo that builds to a sort of jazzy final chord; I heard one student say out loud after we played it, "That sounds so intense!" - I agree!

     

    I also introduced a new song to most of the groups this week, Medieval Dance. The melody of this song was composed around the year 1200, so it is a very old tune placed in a modern arrangement.  It's a beautiful song in 3/4 time, which is new for 4th Grade orchestra.  I'm excited to start working on this song over the next few weeks!  Below is a video of an adult orchestra playing this song (this is just a rehearsal so they stop before the end).

     

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!)  Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #16

     

    Congratulations to your children on a fabulous concert!  They worked very hard and played wonderfully!  They should be very proud, as should you!

     

    In today's rehearsal, we got right down to business with Batman.  This song is actually pretty challenging to put together because there are a lot of rests!  Students have to work hard to count the rests so they don't play during them.  I'm confident that we will master this song in plenty of time for the District Orchestra concert on February 27.  Students should continue practicing Batman, but soon we will be starting a new song called Medieval Dance.  I'll say more about this song next week once all students have started it.

     

     

      

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!)  Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #15

     

    Today's rehearsal was exciting in two ways...we practiced on the stage so that students could get used to where they sit and how it feels to play on the stage before their big day!  Also, we were lucky to have our band teacher Mr. Brewster playing drums with us for First Finger Rock.  It was so exciting to have this song finally sound the way it was always supposed to.  It's going to be a great concert next Wednesday!

     

    In lessons, we are starting to put the finishing touches on Batman and within the next few weeks I'm sure that we will get through the whole song.  Many groups have reached the end, even though we haven't yet played all the way through from beginning to end.  Please encourage your children to practice this song consistently so that we are totally prepared to put the pieces together in orchestra rehearsals after the concert. 

     

      

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!)  Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #14

     

    In today's rehearsal, we played all the way through Cripple Creek and First Scale March, and I'm happy to say that we are ready for the concert!  There are still several students who I can see need to practice one or both songs more, particularly Cripple Creek; this is crunch time when they should really do their best to focus on practicing consistently throughout each week!

     

    We also played through part of Batman today, which is also coming along nicely!  The cellos have the most difficult part, so parents of cello students, definitely keep encouraging your children to practice this challenging song.  All groups have reached measure 28, which actually takes them almost to the end of the song.  Once we master all the notes, we'll have to work on getting it up to a faster tempo so it can have a true rock feel. 

     

    Look out soon for important information about the District Orchestra concert on February 27.

     

     

      

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!)  Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #13

     

    In today's rehearsal, we focused mostly on Batman.  The key to this song is staying together!  There is a constant steady stream of repeated notes that form the foundation of this song, and keeping those notes going at a steady tempo is quite challenging!  The cellos have a particularly difficult part between measures 5-16, so this will require quite a bit of practice.  There are also a lot of rests throughout the song, and counting those rests is another big challenge!

     

    We also played all the way through Cripple Creek, focusing on the dynamics again.  This song is almost ready for the January 22 concert, with several weeks to spare!

     

    If your child is able to practice at all over the break, please encourage them to do so.  When we return in January we'll have just a few short weeks before our concert and we want to present the best possible performance we can!

     

    all the way through Cripple Creek and it really is sounding great.  One thing we worked on was playing with dynamics, which means playing softer or louder.  It's so important to listen to the other instruments in the orchestra and play at a volume that is appropriate for whatever is happening in the moment.

     

     

      

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!) . Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #12

     

    In today's rehearsal, we played all the way through Cripple Creek and it really is sounding great.  One thing we worked on was playing with dynamics, which means playing softer or louder.  It's so important to listen to the other instruments in the orchestra and play at a volume that is appropriate for whatever is happening in the moment.

     

    The students were very excited to start practicing Batman!  We just played the very beginning of the song, working on playing the repetitive pattern with a nice and steady tempo.  One of the biggest challenges in this song is staying together and having everyone play at the same tempo, so that is all we worked on today. We will get a little farther each week and I'm looking forward to seeing this fun song come together!

     

    In today's rehearsal, we played through all of First Scale March and Cripple Creek!  The orchestra is really sounding good and we are almost ready for our concert on January 22.  We're still cleaning up a few things in First Scale March, and in Cripple Creek, we're still working on putting all the pieces together.  I'm very confident that we will have a fantastic concert!  Please make sure that your children are practicing these songs consistently, even as we move towards working on a new song.

      

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!) . Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  Help them find a good place in your home to practice, free from distractions.

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #11

     

    In today's rehearsal, we played through all of First Scale March and Cripple Creek!  The orchestra is really sounding good and we are almost ready for our concert on January 22.  We're still cleaning up a few things in First Scale March, and in Cripple Creek, we're still working on putting all the pieces together.  I'm very confident that we will have a fantastic concert!  Please make sure that your children are practicing these songs consistently, even as we move towards working on a new song.

     

    Speaking of that new song, we will be learning the theme from Batman!  This song is a perennial favorite of orchestra students through the years, so I'm happy to be doing it once more.  This song has some new notes, and an especially challenging cello part.  Watch out for lesson videos for Batman over the next few weeks.  For now, we're just getting started, so students should be practicing the beginning parts of the song.  Cello students should take extra care when practicing the shifts, which we learned about in today's lessons.  Since we've played it at Springhurst before, below is a video from one of our concerts a few years ago.  This was pre-air conditioner so that loud sound you hear is the fan on full blast!  (Start the video at 8:11)

      

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!) . Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  Help them find a good place in your home to practice, free from distractions.

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #10

     

    In today's rehearsal, we practiced Cripple Creek up to measure 36, so we are definitely making good progress!  We won't have a rehearsal next week because of the Thanksgiving break, so I'm hoping that in we'll be able to play all the way through this song in the weeks after we return from this short break.  I'm confident we can master this song before the December holiday break, but this will definitely require consistent practice from all the students in the orchestra between now and then!

     

    Students should focus on whichever parts of each song they find challenging, as opposed to simply playing through the entire song with mistakes.  Every song is made up of individual sections, so students should play each section separately until they master it, then move on to the next section.  It's so important to use practice time efficiently!  Students should apply this idea to every song they learn.

     

    Next week we will be starting a new song, so please encourage your children to practice Cripple Creek so that they are able to be prepared to move on to a new song with confidence!  Don't forget about the lesson videos for Cripple Creek on the orchestra class page.  I've also just posted accompaniment tracks for Cripple Creek, so that students can play along at the tempo of their choice.  These are incredibly valuable resources that I hope your children take advantage of.

      

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!) . Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  Help them find a good place in your home to practice, free from distractions.

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #9

     

    In today's rehearsal, we practiced Cripple Creek up to measure 20, and I'm happy to report that it's sounding really good!  Many groups have gotten much further in the song during lessons, with some groups even finishing it.  My hope is that in the coming weeks, we can start to put all the pieces together so we can be ready for our January 22 concert well in advance! 

     

    Students should not forget to continue practicing First Scale March and First Finger Rock as we focus more on practicing Cripple Creek in lessons and rehearsals.  Remember that last week, I posted lesson videos for Cripple Creek on the orchestra class page; please encourage your children to watch these videos for a review of what they have learned about this song during lessons, or to go ahead if they're ready.

      

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!) . Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  Help them find a good place in your home to practice, free from distractions.

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #8

     

    In today's rehearsal, we got to work on Cripple Creek, practicing the melody part with the slurs.  For violins and violas, this is at measure 5; for cellos and basses, it's at measure 21.  When we played all these parts together it sounded really good!  Students must remember that slurs require them to really focus on moving the bow slowly while the left hand fingers change notes.  In lessons, most groups have reached measure 28 or 36, with some getting even farther.

     

    We also practiced First Scale March and First Finger Rock today.  First Finger Rock is sounding really great and at this point we are just playing that to enjoy the song and keep it fresh; we don't really need to be practicing it much any more.  First Scale March still needs some work though, particularly in the middle sections.  Please encourage your children to practice this song in addition to Cripple Creek over the next few weeks.

     

    I posted lesson videos for Cripple Creek on the orchestra class page, so please encourage your children to watch these videos for a review of what they have learned about this song during lesson, or to go ahead if they're ready.

      

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!) . Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  Help them find a good place in your home to practice, free from distractions.

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #7

     

    In today's rehearsal, we were able to play First Scale March from beginning to end.  This song is really coming along.  Students should continue practicing this song, as well as First Finger Rock even as we move on to focus on our new song, Cripple Creek.

     

    We did practice a little bit of Cripple Creek in today's rehearsal, only up to about measure 12.  There is a new technique in this song called slurs, where students connect two notes with one bow stroke.  This is quite challenging at first, because it sort of goes against how they have been playing this whole time.  With practice, slurs will become easier until they are second nature.  You should hear your children practicing only the parts with the slurs, separate from the rest of the song.

      

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!) . Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  Help them find a good place in your home to practice, free from distractions.

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #6

     

    In today's rehearsal, we got all the way to the end of First Scale March! It was exciting to finally reach the end of this challenging song.  We also practiced the middle section of the song, which is where the students play pizzicato all together - it sounded great!  We also got to play all the way through First Finger Rock from beginning to end.

     

    In this week's lessons, we've started learning our new song Cripple Creek.  The main new skill we're working on with this song is slurs.  A slur is played by connecting two or more notes with one bow stroke, creating a smoother sound.  There is a bit of mental gymnastics to do this at first as it sort of contradicts how students are used to playing, which is moving the bow back and forth for every note.  We haven't gotten far in the song, but all students should be able to play the slurs at this point.  Mastering this new skill will go a long way towards helping students learn the rest of the song.  Don't forget to have your children watch the video in the previous update - it will help them get the sound of the song in their heads. 

      

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!) . Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  Help them find a good place in your home to practice, free from distractions.

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #5

     

    In today's rehearsal, we played all the way to the end of First Finger Rock!  We made it!  It's very exciting to actually get to the end of our first song, although we have yet to actually play it from start to finish.  Hopefully we will get to do that next week.

     

    We also practiced the plucking part of First Scale March.  In string land we call plucking pizzicato, and it can be quite challenging to do this as a large group because students frequently tend to go too fast.  They did great, though!  Most groups will get to the end of the song next week and soon we will be able to play this song all the way through as well.

     

    This leads us to our third song, Cripple Creek.  This is definitely a step up in terms of how challenging the song is compared to the first two.  There are a lot of new skills in this song that students will learn such as slurs and left hand pizzicato - more on those to come.  This song will sound somewhat similar to the song Bile Em Cabbage Down that we played in 3rd grade last year, in that they are both fiddle songs and feature similar rhythms.  I'm excited to get to work on this fun song!  I'm including a video of this song below so you can watch it with your child and get a feel for how it sounds all put together.

      

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!) . Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  Help them find a good place in your home to practice, free from distractions.

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #4

     

    In today's rehearsal, we played up to m. 24 in First Finger Rock, and I have a feeling that we will finish the song very soon!  This is a very fun song to play - the notes themselves are quite simple, but the combination of notes and rests can be challenging.  In First Scale March, we reached m. 20, which is right before students get to start plucking the strings, which is called pizzicato.  This is how they played back in the beginning of 3rd grade when they hadn't yet learned to use the bow.  In First Scale March, the effect of the whole orchestra playing pizzicato together is quite effective!

     

    In both of these songs, we have almost reached the end in most lesson groups, which means it is time to start learning a new song!  Next week we will start learning Cripple Creek, a fun and challenging fiddle song that I know your children will enjoy playing.  Now is the time to be practicing First Finger Rock and First Scale March consistently so that students are ready for our next musical adventure!

     

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  (Even more is better!) . Please encourage your child to practice consistently so they are prepared for lessons and rehearsals.  Help them find a good place in your home to practice, free from distractions.

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #3

     

    In today's rehearsal, we focused mostly on First Scale March, and it is slowly coming together!  We just got up to measure 12, but as students will soon realize, there are a lot of repeated parts in this song so it won't take long to learn all the notes.  Putting the pieces together will be a challenge, though, as there are multiple rhythms being played at the same time in different instruments throughout the song.  The more students practice at home, the easier it will be to put the pieces together in the rehearsals.

     

    In First Finger Rock, we are still working on putting the pieces together for the beginning of the song, up to around measure 25.  Just as in First Scale March, the notes at the end of the song sort of mirror the beginning; so once we get up to around measure 35 we will be able to zip through to the end of the song.

     

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  Please get the school year off to a great start by encouraging your child to practice consistently.  Help them find a good place in your home to practice, free from distractions.

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #2

     

    In today's rehearsal, we got pretty far in First Finger Rock!  It's already sounding great and I know it will get better and better.  We got up to measure 25, although in the lessons most groups have reached measure 35.  It usually takes longer in rehearsals to put the pieces together, just because we have to work hard to fit each instruments' part with the other parts.  As long as students are coming prepared knowing their own notes, we'll be able to get through the song quickly!  

     

    We've started working on First Scale March this week.  This is a more "normal" sounding song in that there is no rock beat to accompany the orchestra, and it contains all the notes of the D Scale rather than just the open strings and first finger notes.  First Scale March uses the D Scale in different ways to create a song that sounds as if the orchestra is in a parade.  This song is a step up in difficulty in that there are more contrasting rhythms, lots of rests, a plucking (pizzicato) section, and more.  But, the familiarity of the notes makes it somewhat easier to learn.  I'm including a video of First Scale March below, which I encourage you to watch with your children to get an idea of what this fun song will sound like.  It just so happens that we played this song two school years ago at the 4th Grade concert, so this is a video of the Springhurst 4th Grade orchestra from 2018 playing First Scale March.  Many of these students are now playing in orchestra in middle school!  (Start the video at 2:07.)

     

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  Please get the school year off to a great start by encouraging your child to practice consistently.  Help them find a good place in your home to practice, free from distractions.

     

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • 4th Grade Weekly Practice Update #1

     

    Welcome to this year's first Weekly Practice Update!  This is where you can read about what your child has been working on during each week.  Reading this updates will be a great way for you to get involved in your child's orchestra experience.

     

    In this week's lessons, we started out by reviewing the D Scale, which students learned and played a LOT last year.  Then, we started practicing our first song, First Finger Rock.  This is a really fun song that will feature a rock drum beat playing along with the orchestra!  The other unique thing about this song is that it only uses open strings and the first finger, making it a little bit easier to read the notes!  There is a video below of another school orchestra playing this song.  Please watch this with your child to give you an idea of what it will sound like when we put all the pieces together.

     

    Some students also looked at the second song, First Scale March, which we will start learning next week.

     

    Since we have our first concert on January 22, it's so important that your children start practicing right away.  That way, we'll be able to put the songs together during rehearsals quickly; this will allow us the time to work on making the music sound as great as it possibly can.

     

    Remember that the guideline for practicing is ten minutes a day or 70 minutes a week.  That may sound like a lot, but that short amount of time will go by really quickly, so it's better to do even more than that!  Please get the school year off to a great start by encouraging your child to practice consistently.  Help them find a good place in your home to practice, free from distractions.

     

    Thank you for reading the first Weekly Practice Update, and...

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

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