3 things to say to your child or teen about their piano practice
When it comes to learning the piano, we know that regular - ie daily - practice is the way to make progress.
And with 10,050 minutes between each 30 minute piano lesson each week, it sometime baffles teachers how so many excuses are made about lack of practice! After all, teachers have no control about routines at home. Only parents have control of that!
So what should you as a parent be saying to help your child to be supportive?
1. “What did you learn about in your lesson today?”
This is key! Let’s move away from the idea that learning the piano is learning to play particular pieces of music. It’s not! It’s about learning concepts: aspects of technique, landmark notes and reading, phrasing, expression, particular rhythms, etc. Help your child to get WHAT CONCEPTS they are learning clear in their mind to focus their studies.
2. “What do you need for your practice session?”
Make sure you communicate to your child that their practice session is important and valued. Your child might need things to practise: a pencil, blu tac to mark notes, their sight reading cards, pebbles for three-in-a-row practice games. Or it might be that they need the TV to be off for concentration, or even a snack to keep them going! Whatever it is, your support adds weight and priority to practice sessions. That in turn means that they are more likely to be successful.
3. “What problems did you solve in your practice today?”
Support your child to understand that practice is about solving problems and making improvements! So if they are struggling with rhythm, then each day their practice might focus on tapping the rhythm of a section, or saying it in rhythm language or metrical counting. If they are struggling with notes, they might highlight notes they know already on the score, and work others out from there. If they are struggling with fluency, then it’s advisable to start super slowly and progress each day by taking it a fraction faster. But the important thing for your child to realise is that they are creating solutions each day, not just playing through music (that’s the “fun” bit at the end of a practice session!).
Whatever you do, rest assured that the importance that YOU place on practice as a parent has a direct link with your child’s piano progress. It’s proven.
And more consistent progress = a child FAR more likely to continue their piano studies!