It's October, how do I get my child to practice?

October is a tricky month. September is usually filled with new pieces and a fresh start but once October comes around it’s more challenging to get students to stick with practice. Based on our experience there are a few tips that work well for motivating young children to practice but I researched a few other tips and I’ve linked to those articles as well.

  1. Routine is essential. I suggest that students practice at the same time every day - or on the 5 days that they have agreed to practice. Set a time and make it piano time. No excuses. Like brushing your teeth piano practice should be a non-negotiable.

  2. Remove distractions. This may seem obvious but it can be challenging with open concept houses. Try to limit radios or tv sounds, have other children find something quiet they can do for the duration of the practice so they won’t interrupt, and remove your phones/ipads and other distractions like large timers. I know that I find my phone a distraction so I leave it out of the studio when I practice.

  3. Sit with your student. Kids of all ages need positive reinforcement and often just sitting with your student can give them the encouragement that they need. No need to worry that you “don’t know” how to play piano - your student DOES and they can teach you. Read the lesson notes and ask questions about them to your student.

  4. While you are sitting there with your student and they are moving through their practice notes why not play a game with them? There are so many options for practice games and I’ve linked to a site with some good ones here and here and here is a pdf of some games you can use that I got from The Fame School years ago.

  5. Have your piano student goof off- and by that I mean have them make up their own piece and play it for you. Have them explain what’s happening in the piece and what they like about it - self expression is part of what we are teaching when we give music lessons!

  6. End on a positive note. Have your student play a piece they are proud of- or that they already know and love. This builds confidence in their abilities.

Piano Practice - listening is the key!

Piano practice should include lots and lots of repetition, which can be discouraging to younger students (and to big students too!). So how do we make it count? We listen!

  1. divide your piece up into chunks. Student's know the importance of "chunking" their work. When you do this, look and listen for problems - are your notes correct, are you using the correct fingering, did you remember accidentals, what about your rhythm? Make sure to play it correctly an odd number of times!

  2. If the section is new, check out one area to focus on. Maybe look at your notes - get them all squared away and then focus on your rhythm - use a metronome! You choose your area.

  3. See if you can memorize just that section and really LISTEN to your piece. Can you hear anything that sounds off? If so, maybe that's a problem area and investigate it with your music.

Listening is one of the most important skills we forget about.  Next time you practice, try listening to what you're doing!  It could make the difference between a good piano practice and a great one!