Piano Practice Tips for Children
Music is one of life’s most beautiful gifts. As a child, learning to play the piano can be a life-changing experience as it teaches your child more than just rhythm and note reading. Learning an instrument encompasses diligence, commitment, hard-work, practice and patience; skills that are invaluable in life and skills your child can carry forward into the future.
Being a “piano parent” is a big commitment and many parents struggle to keep their children motivated throughout the year. It is easy, as a parent, to see all the benefits that learning an instrument can offer your child such as mathematical skills and language learning. However, communicating this to your child can sometimes go unheard. If your child remains unconvinced, it is in these moments many parents wonder if their children will be grateful for the opportunity to learn an instrument during their childhood. As once a young piano student myself, I can say with great certainty that the opportunity I had to learn piano and the possibilities it opened up for me later in life have been worth their weight in gold. I cherish the gift of music that my parents gave to me, and as a piano teacher I now try to pass on these words to any parent questioning if all the pleading to practice is worth it.
Unfortunately, there is no amazing fool-proof practice method that will work for any child in any place. All children learn differently and therefor may require different types of motivation when it comes to practicing. Luckily there are many strategies that will help make a difference in this endeavour.
Find the Right Teacher
First and most importantly, the chemistry between your child and their piano teacher needs to be right. I recommend meeting with several teachers before making the final call. In order for this relationship to work for your child, they must be able to connect with their teacher in a fun yet productive way. No matter how accomplished or qualified a teacher is, they won’t be able to teach your child successfully if a bond between teacher and child is not established. Listen carefully when your child talks about their teacher and pay attention for signs that they don’t gel. Trial lessons can often be helpful as it allows you, as a parent, to determine whether or not the teacher will be the right fit for your family. Of course, it’s natural for your child to complain about having to learn something new or difficult. This is something you both have to go through! Small frustrations will inevitably arise once in a while, but learning to cope with these is just another valuable part of the learning experience. Working as a parent/child/teacher triangle is the optimal way to ensure your children’s success and enjoyment. It is therefore imperative that the teacher be the right fit for both you and your child.
Create a Regular Piano Practice Schedule
Once you have masterfully acquired a new teacher for your child, practicing at home is the next step to master. In the early stages, it’s important to keep practice sessions short. Children will be much happier to work through two sessions of 10 to 15 minutes of practice each day, rather than one long session in the evening. It is important that practice becomes part of their daily routine. Saving practice for the weekends often causes children to lose interest and deters learning new skills each day. Daily repetition of patterns and exercises is a vital part of practice for even the most accomplished pianists! As a parent all you want is for your child to be successful, but you can’t expect them to pick up pieces by Chopin and Bach after a few weeks of lessons. Learning piano is a process that requires time. Try to be patient, and help your child to stay patient too. Learning takes time and every new milestone reached is something to be celebrated.
Use a Piano Practice Chart to Follow Progress
There are many fun printable piano practice charts available online nowadays. These can provide a great means for tracking progress and for motivating your child. See an example of a printable piano practice chart here, or make your own.
Reward Hard Work
It is important that your child not view music as a forced discipline, like math or science. Getting your child in a situation where music doesn’t feel like another school subject is crucial. Developing a practice routine takes time, like any new routine you try to incorporate into your life, there is an adjustment period. For children, awarding small treats can be helpful during this transition period. Some ideas to reward your child for practicing every day may be staying up a little later on the weekend, a few extra screen time minutes, their favourite desert for dinner, the options here are really endless and will differ from child to child. This method helps teach children that hard work pays off! Setting small goals and rewards is a great way to work as a parent/teacher/student triangle.
Don’t Give Up
Like many things in life there isn’t one simple trick to overcome the “I don’t want to practice” challenge. For many students, it is a combination of several factors that leads to success. Hopefully with a little motivation, a good practice schedule, and the right teacher, these practice discussions may become a thing of the past and a love for music a thing of their future!