We would all love to convey our years of hard-earned wisdom to our children by merely uttering it. The reality is though, that an 8-year-old is not interested in whether piano practice taught mommy patience when she was young, or perhaps showed dad the way to self-discipline.
That's exactly why we have put together some advice gathered from teachers, parents and former students to help you help your offspring practice piano - or at the very least, giving it a well-deserved attempt.
Here are 6 of the most important factors to keep in mind:
1. The teacher
This will most probably be the most important aspect in your entire journey toward piano practice. Your child’s teacher will ultimately be the one spending the time with your children during lessons, and it is imperative that there is some form of connection or likability. A teacher who knows how to make learning fun, whether through the use of games, quizzes or incentives is usually more likely to succeed in teaching children. Some piano teachers even make use of digital tools, like tablets, in various ways. It can range from teaching a student to read notes or play songs from digital sheets. Most children, and teenagers especially, will find this far more appealing than more traditional methods. Keep this in mind when scouting for a teacher and don't be shy to ask which methods they apply during their lessons.
2. Goals and incentives
In the early stages, especially, your child will need daily practice piano every day. Rather than set time limits during practice, set goals.
Understandably, younger children will have smaller goals, but try to make the decision an interactive one. Ask your child what their goal could be – it could be anything from completing a finger exercise to learning the first four lines of a new song. And use your parental judgment to confirm the goal before practice.
Offering your child incentives could also be a great motivational tool. Extra data for their phones, or even a drive to the ice cream shop after a week of successful piano practice, can offer another added benefit to them to keep at it. As with the goals, talk to your child before the lesson and agree on an incentive.
Also consider that, if possible, practice should not be close to a room with a television. Other members of the family might not appreciate the noise whilst watching their favorite program. On the other, being banished to a lonely and secluded part of the house might also not sit well with your young pianist. As far as you can, find a happy medium and pop in every now and then during play time to see how they are doing.
3. Play vs practice
Children, as very often with adults, will show and feel more interest if a subject is appealing to them. When referring to your child’s lessons, try to call it "playing the piano" instead of "practicing the piano". Encourage your child to learn to perform songs that they enjoy.
4. Apps and games
With so many digital tools available, work together on selecting the ideal app for practicing and have some fun with it. It's always more fun when everyone gets involved. There are many apps available for a number of helpful exercises such as practicing ear training, doing musical quizzes and note association.
For younger or beginner students especially, you can play a game by simply using a dice. Once your child is familiar with 6 exercises/songs/scales, you can allocate each of these to a number on the dice. Give your child the dice to throw, after which they perform the activity corresponding to the number thrown. You can decide whether you want to keep going until all 6 numbers have been thrown, or even just do a specific number of throws per game. Either way, you will be adding another element of fun to piano playing and ensure that your child is continuously engaged with the exercise.
You should also record your child’s piano practice and then do it again a few months later. Play it back to them to show them how far they have come to keep them motivated.
5. Something to remember
Let's face it, a lot of us owe our knowledge, fondness and love of music to our parents listening or playing it at home. Now it is your turn to weave the magic! Creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for your child in which to play the piano is another important facet.
6. Encourage creativity
Guiding your child toward finding creative ways in which to interact with the piano, will make piano time even more fun!
Buy a composition book for your child so that they can write their own music will also go a long way to making piano practice more appealing. You can even set a challenge for them to try and figure out the notes to their favorite songs. An incentive for a successful composition will surely bring forth another masterpiece, and a good incentive is, perhaps, the actual CD of their favorite band, or even songs that will inspire further compositions.
Put a concert together and invite friends and family members to come and listen. Not only will this be a huge confidence boost, but your child will also feel a sense of achievement after all the hard work they have put in.
And there you have it - 6 methods which have proven to help you create a passion for playing the piano in your child.
About the Author: Julie Adams
I am a mom, a music lover and teacher from Tampa, FL. After completing a Bachelor of Music in Performance Arts, I traveled for several years before returning home where I started offering private piano and singing lessons as extra income. I met my husband in 2009 and 2 years later moved to Dallas where we settled down and I started focusing on vocal training to aspiring singers and performance artists of all age groups. I still enjoy playing the piano very much, and in my spare time you will catch doing some horse riding, drawing, doing some light reading, or just spending quality time with my family.