8 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Practise Piano
By John Park
In a perfect world, your child would love to sit down and learn to play the piano. They’d be eager to practise and create beautiful music for themselves and anyone who could hear them. That’s the secret to progressing and playing music well. Practice.
Some kids will go and practise on their own because they’re eager to learn and improve their skills. Other kids need their parents constant nagging before they grudgingly sit down at the piano to practise.
The question is, how can you turn your child into one that practises because they know that it’s the only way to get better and make beautiful music? I’ve learned a few magic tricks over the years, and I’m excited to share them with you below!
1. Understanding How the Process Works
Regardless of age, the promise of a reward for a job well done is a powerful motivator. An experienced music teacher understands this, and they’d use this knowledge to help their students reach their full potential. If a parent understands this, the child would be able to progress and get better easily in the comfort of their own home.
For children, there is no greater motivation than a reward. This could be their parent’s praise, positive feedback, consistent and sincere support, or a practical reward like cookies or their favourite game that can push your child to want to practise. When your child gets these things in response to practising, they’ll start associating practising the piano with positive experiences. In turn, they can practise on their own without prompting.
2. Get a Promise to Practise During the First Lesson
Whether your child wants to be a concert pianist or a keyboardist in a rock band, it all starts with the first lesson. When you sit down with your child to practise for the first time, whether they’ve played before or not, talk to them about their goals. Once you have a clear goal, ask for a promise to practise five days a week at the minimum, no matter what.
You’ll go on this journey with your child and practise with them every day. Even if they’re young, they know how important it is to keep promises. This first lesson and promise to practise lays the groundwork for their entire learning process. It’s extremely powerful and effective.
3. Make Practising a Weekly Routine at a Set Time
Humans are creatures of habit. Whatever you do for a certain time becomes a habit that you can do without much effort. A parent’s role is helping their child develop a strong practising habit. The parents should be firm about this and set up the weekly routine at the same time each day and week.
Setting an alarm to let your child know when it’s time to practise is essential to keeping a consistent schedule, especially during the critical first few months. When you forget to ask your child to practise and they approach you and ask, you know that you’ve successfully formed a firm practice habit.
4. Have a Practice Logbook
Getting a practice logbook and having your child fill it in is a very good way to encourage daily practice. It’s a satisfying experience for your child, especially if you let them fill in all of the days with stickers or colouring. My students starting from age 5 and going up to 65 used their own “customised” logbook to achieve great outcomes.
5. Set Up a Practice Location
Ideally, your child should practice in the same area every day to keep their routines consistent. This area should be somewhere very comfortable in the house where you can hear them. However, it should be somewhere where your child can practice without interruptions or disruptions.
6. Positive Feedback and Praise From the Family
Although there are many rewards that can motivate a child like stickers, games and toys, one of the best (and free!) motivators you can hand your child is your praise and positive feedback. You can say things like “That sounds great!” “Encore!” “Can you play it again?” “That’s my favourite song!” or “I’m proud of you” when your child plays.
Your child’s confidence will grow, and they’ll want to practise more to impress you. Never criticise your child’s playing if they make a mistake or start out with the wrong rhythm. This is counterproductive, and it’s the teacher’s job.
7. Host a Mini Concert
Have your child perform a mini concert for your friends and family. If the grandparents stop by, have your child play for them to practise. This small stage is like a huge Opera house concert, and it can bring out positive emotions when they play.
Additionally, it’s excellent practice for any other formal performances they may have later.
8. Encourage Your Child to Take a Music Exam
Many parents may doubt the power of a music exam. But, used correctly, the exam can be a great teaching tool to encourage practice and a love of playing. In Australia, the Australian Music Association Board (AMAB) is a very well-established and systematic exam with great song choices.
Experienced teachers will prepare your child for their exam so they’re ready for it. This exam can boost your child’s confidence, teach them balanced skills and cause them to work harder as the exam draws near.
These eight general ideas can encourage your child to practise piano, but there are dozens of other tools. You should use the tools that fit your child and family to maximise your results.
Remember, the initial setup is critical, and using positive reinforcement and praise from the beginning all of the ways through is important. Your child will start practising on their own and enjoy it.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and I hope it inspired you to help your child lay a solid foundation for their love of music.