Piano Lessons, how to Encourage Practice
You want your child to develop that lifelong passion for the piano, and the dedication and disciple to practice, but you just don’t see them putting in the effort.
They may really enjoy their piano lessons, but when you say, “ok, practice time!” they don’t jump off the couch.
You probably know by now that pressuring you kid or forcing just doesn’t work. If anything, this strategy usually backfires and can really cause the child to lose interest. We have seen many cases where parents pushed and forced, and although they got some results, it rarely resulted in long term interest from the student. The student generally will quit at the first available opportunity if forceful methods are employed.
The below 10 suggests, come from the Director of Angles Academy, who has seen thousands of children progress in music.
This is a list of what you can do at home to really help motivate your child to practice the piano.
1. Give your Child Attention
Ask them to play the piece they are working on. Then sit, put aside the phone or other distractions and just your support your child. Applaud and encourage them when they are done. If there are friends or family nearby, ask them to sit down and arrange a little performance, even a minute or two. This attention and presence is a thousand times better than yelling “Practice!”
2. Prioritize Recitals
Over the years, we have found kids get much more excited about music after participating in a recital. Seeing their peers make music really brings it to life for them. Also, there is that friendly competition that can make all the difference.
3. Take your Child to Concerts
By helping them cultivate a personal interest themselves, they will feel much more connected to what they are doing on their instrument, especially if they are learning to play some of this newly discovered music.
4. Become an Admirer of Music Yourself
All the above suggestions are easier if you love music and appreciate many different styles. Taking piano lessons yourself may be the quickest way to motivate your child. It’s often fruitless to pressure your children into doing something you are not willing to try yourself.
5. Encourage a Daily Practice Time
It’s easy to let life get in the way without a schedule. Help create a schedule with your child, and then remind them. If their is a conflict, (especially one you created), sit with them and schedule it for anther time of day. This kind of responsibility is not just critical for their musical development, but for their future.
6. Gently Reward, and Take Away
One great way to get them to want to practice, is to let them out of some chore or commitment they don’t particularly love. “If you go practice, I’ll do the dishes for you.” This is much more effective than punishments if they don’t. After their practice, an ice cream or other reward will also help to reinforce the behavior.
7. Check that they are following instructions.
Make sure they are reading and practicing the notes from their regular piano lessons. If they are just playing through the piece and not following the instructions, they may not see results and may overtime get discouraged. Gently checking the notes and asking the child to educate you about what they are learning can be a great way to remind the child without forcefully suggesting compliance.
8. Limit time spent on addictive games.
Unfortunately, many of todays games have been designed to trigger all the addiction mechanisms in the brain. This can make activities like piano lessons less enjoyable for kids. To learn an instrument well requires time before reaping the rewards. If a student is allowed constant access to addictive games, it can make it harder for the child to complete tasks that really require effort, and don’t have immediate rewards.
9. Cultivate Relationships with Likeminded Families
Kids are always comparing what they are working on with each-other. Be sure you are socializing with families who’s kids love music too. Its hard to sustain great practicing habits if none of their peers place any value on music, or music practice.
10. Do a Little Everyday
Even if there is not enough time one day for practice, encourage them to play for even for a couple minutes, or to just play one old piece. This is good because It’s very important to practice daily, even if it’s very short. This will create the habit that music happens daily, no matter what else is going on.
Model Patience, Discipline, and Commitment to the Learning Process
Like all good things, seeing real results takes time. We often remind parents that if their child is not practicing well we need to look at why rather than just quit.
Quitting subjects when presented with challenge can be a bad president to set for your kid. It’s important to make a plan and to try to improve routines, and then give it some time and gently assess improvements. We have seen students that seemed to lack interest for a year or so, despite constant effort from our instructors, and then suddenly something caught their attention, and now they are practicing constantly and fired up about music. Just as practice requires patience, be sure and model that patience in encouraging and assessing your child’s progress. The most successful students of any subject are the ones that stick with it no matter what, even when progress seems to plateau.