After most piano performances, I always enjoy talking with people in the audience who took the time to come out and hear me play. One of the most common comments I get is ?how long have you been playing?? My response always the same: ?I started lessons when I was 5 years old and just seemed to stick with it?? So many people I speak with express disappointment saying they wish they had started taking piano lessons as a kid or they wish they hadn?t quit them so early.
Since this comes up so frequently, I decided to investigate what it is that I feel keeps kids interested in learning the piano. There has to be some key factors as to why someone chooses continues to go down that path and why another abandons. In thinking about what has helped me and also in talking to fellow musicians over the years, I have come up with the tips below that will help your child enjoy piano lessons and help them avoid the feeling of being forced to go to see their piano teacher each week.
- Find a good piano teacher!
I have put this one first because I think it is the absolute most important. If your child doesn?t like the teacher he or she goes to see every week, how on earth are they going to enjoy playing piano with them? Find a teacher that is good with kids and who knows how to make learning fun. Teachers that use games, prizes and incentives are the most successful in getting kids to want to sit down and practice. Just think, if you were a kid, what would make you want t practice? If a teacher uses a ruler to slap hands for incorrect hand position, you should rethink who is teaching your child!
- Listen to Music at Home
If kids are surrounded by music at home and they see their parents enjoying it, they will be more likely to enjoy it themselves. They will most likely develop the same tastes in music you have early on. Don?t be afraid to have family sing-a-longs, practice simple vocal harmonies, or play rhythmic games. Tell your children stories of concerts you went to see and explain what you liked so much about them. Soon they will want to go to concerts themselves!
- Get all of your Children Involved
If you have two kids, try to get both of them taking piano lessons. If they are learning together they might be able to inspire each other and help each other. Also, there is nothing wrong with healthy competition. If your kids have a competitive spirit they might be more interested in mastering their song so that they can play it better than their brother or sister. I have a sister and being a fairly competitive person I always wanted to play better than she did. To this day I still have that inspiration in me when I see a pianist who is playing things I can?t.
- Put Together Performance Opportunities
One of the most rewarding things about playing piano is playing for an audience and being enjoyed by an audience. Try to put together concerts for your children. To start, you can just do them in your home with your family members. Later, if your child is taking lessons, encourage them to participate in recitals. The key is to make these into an event. No matter how large or small, let your child understand that they are participating in something great. This is a confidence booster and will also inspire them to want to get in front of an audience again.
- Encourage your Child to Learn Songs they Enjoy
If you?ve succeeded in getting your child to start to enjoy music, you should begin to ask them what their favorite songs are. Meet with their teacher and insist on the teacher teaching those songs to your child. A good piano teacher should be able to simplify it or adapt it so it is playable. Learning a song that you love is one of the more satisfying feelings when it comes to learning an instrument. Further, of your child?s friends also like that song, when your child is able to sit down and play it for friends they will be jealous and will serve as further encouragement for your child to keep learning piano.
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About the Author: Michael Kinney
I have played piano since I was 5 years old. I started in classical and then quickly moved to blues and jazz. I studied at the collegiate level and have played professionally since I was 16. My favorite piano players (if I had to pick 3) include Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson and Herbie Hancock). I own several keyboards but always prefer to play on a Steinway if one is available! I live to perform as much as I like to teach.