Encourage your child to practice piano

1. Make the piano area beautiful and inviting for your child:
  • Make the piano a center of attention, there can be a few pictures of your family, or other decorations, but no toys  that would create a distraction.
  • If possible, put the piano in an area that your child will see often
  • Make sure that there is a proper level of lighting
  • If the bench is not tall enough provide a firm pillow, and a small stool on which your child can put their feet to maintain a proper position at the piano.
  • The music books, and assignment books should be visible, organized, and easily accessible to your child. You can use a beautiful basket or organizer of your choice.
  • Keep at least one pen, and two sharp pencils with erasers with the piano books - your child will need them for the written assignment and homework assignments.

2. Set a practice time at least three times per week, up to seven times per week, according to your schedule.
  • Choose a time when you, or another member of your family will be available to sit with your child and help him /her practice. Especially in the beginning your participation will be crucial because your child will need your guidance to develop a habit of consistent practicing.
  • Just as with homework from school or household chores, if parents do not enforce practice as part of the daily routine, the student will probably not do it on their own. Some very self-motivated students will initiate their practice routine by themselves without the reminder of parents, but this is only a small percentage.
  • One of my student's mom set alarm clock on 4:30pm everyday and when the beautiful tone of alarm clock sound, it is time for playing piano. One other student play piano in the morning everyday from 7am to 7:30am and get on the school bus at 7:35am. I admire these two student's ability to be self-discipline. Both of them shows extraordinary progress for all these years.
  • Keep a practice chart and write down how much time your child invest in practicing
  • Make practice times fun and enjoyable: Have your child " teach" you. This will give him/her a chance to repeat what they have learned during the lesson. Children LOVE encouraging audience! Also, make sure that your child follows the teacher's instructions - everything will be written in the assignment note book.
  • From time to time every child has moments when they do not "feel" like practicing. It is very important that you help them to stay on track.

What works:
  • Explain to your child why practicing is important to them, and you are enjoying listening to their beautiful piano playing, and being proud of their progress.
  • Instead of "forcing" the issue, you may offer a reward for the weekend if your child practices certain number of times during the week. Be creative, you know best what your child would like the most. I personally prefer intangible gifts such as a trip to museum, a walk in park, a bicycle ride together, a trip to your child's favorite restaurant. I dislike candies/chocolate, because, we know that it is not good for children. I also dislike toys such as another Wii game etc, because it will take away more time of your child to do homework from school and practicing piano. However, this is only my personal perspective, only you will know your child the most. 
  • Some parents have shared with me that they tell their children that they can only watch TV, play games, or do whatever they enjoy best, afterthey are done with their piano practice for the day. According to some of them this works great.
  • One mom told me that she use the word "play piano" instead of "practice piano". When children heard "play" they are more happy compare to "practice" because "practice" usually means duty.

3. The value your child places on their piano lessons, piano playing, and their progress will depend on the level of your commitment.
  • Children listen to what we say, and watch what we do. You encouraged your child's desire, and arranged for him/her to start taking piano lessons. He/she heard you say how happy and proud you feel when you listen to his/her piano playing. Now, let's think about what your child is seeing:
  • Do you spend time with him/her at the piano on a regular basis- listening, helping, reading from the assignment book? If these times together are important to you, practicing will be important to your child.
  • Do you consistently encourage them to practice on your scheduled days/ times, or do you often make exceptions for different reasons?
  • Do you often agree to cancel piano lessons for different reasons other than health related reasons? Do you call to cancel because of raining and it is hard for you to drive? Do you call to change the piano lesson time because you and your child are invited to a birthday party? Children will learn from what they see. Parents have to set example to their children that "piano lesson is important and we should commit to it" before asking children to do the same thing.
  • Do you let your child participate together with the other students in the recitals organized by your piano teacher?  

All parents want their children to progress and succeed in every area of their life. I really hope that this article will help your child in at least one of them - and enjoy music for life.

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