Why does my kid need to practice?
Practicing is the most important part of taking piano lessons. If a student doesn’t touch the piano at home, they’ll make little if no progress in their lessons.
Why, you ask? Because it’s a skill, and just like any other skill, repetition is key to mastery.
Let’s take a real life example that just about everyone has experience with: learning to read. You start out small, right? You learn the alphabet, then tiny words, then bigger and bigger words. And there are different expectations for different ages; a 6 year old reads at a different level than a 14 year old.
Now imagine you took that 6 year old and gave them a 30 minute reading lesson each week. That’s it, just one lesson to learn all the things each week. And in between, the 6 year old never cracked another book. Everything he saw and heard was in an entirely different language. How long would it take this little guy to learn? FOREVER. He’d probably get frustrated and give up long before he could read anything worth reading.
We give piano students 30 minutes each week to show their teacher what they’ve worked on and to learn something new. Then, too often, the student goes home and doesn’t touch the piano for most of the week. It’s no wonder they come to their next lesson without making progress.
Some children are super smart, and can pick up the basics really easily, but even they will hit a wall where they actually need to spend time practicing each week to move forward in their lesson book.
Why doesn’t my kid practice?
There are some really studious kids out there who love to do math problems, read books, and practice piano. But not everyone has one of those little bookworms.
Practicing a musical instrument is work. It takes focus, hand-eye coordination, and a whole bunch of brainpower. It can also be pretty boring to repeat the same little songs over and over until they’re right.
If your child doesn’t take the initiative and practice on his/her own, don’t be discouraged. They probably just need some encouragement. Once a student gets into it, and really begins to understand how to play and how to practice, they find the motivation within themselves to play without parental guidance.
How do I get my kid to practice?
You need to incentivize practice time, and it needs to become part of the daily routine. Here are some ways that my students’ parents have encouraged their children to practice:
- If they get in their practice time, they get (however many) minutes of screen time each day. Extra practice leads to extra screen time
- If they practice every day for a week, they can have a friend over
- Make practicing part of the daily chore chart
- Excuse the child from doing a chore if they’ll practice instead
- Have a practice jar – Each time they play a piece right, or practice something correctly, they can put a coin/pebble/skittle in the jar. When the jar is full, they get a special reward.
- Practice time is part of the daily routine, like dinner time or bedtime.
It’s going to be extra work at first for the parent, but it will pay off! Any child can learn to enjoy playing the piano and perfecting their pieces, and there’s a lot of satisfaction to be gained from playing something well after you’ve worked on it.
Does your child take piano lessons? How do you get them to practice?
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