Getting children motivated to do their piano practice can be daunting. As parents we have our hands full juggling work and home commitments. Our kids too, are almost as busy, with many after school activities requiring attention. In this hectic busy schedule we need to motivate ourselves first, in order to be of help to our kids.
Many of you may find this scenario familiar.
Your talented youngster recently started piano lessons. To begin with their initial enthusiasm meant, that you, shamefully sometimes asked them to please ‘stop’ playing the same piece over and over again!
Now however, things have changed and you need to devise a way of motivating them to get some practice done.
What should you do?
Here are some tips to bring back the fun to piano practice. It does require a little effort on your part, but it will soon become much easier.
Piano practice action plan.
1. Set a daily practice opportunity time slot.
Work out with your youngster a time in the day for practice. It needs to be the same time every day. Frame it as their ‘opportunity’ to practice rather than it being a chore. The idea is to establish a practice habit. You want them to be self motivated so they don’t need constant reminding.
2. Focus on quality not quantity.
Explain that there is no set amount of time that must be completed. Together you want to find the quickest way to practice well. A short time of meaningful practice is what works best. You will find that by removing time limits your child will begin to practice more, not less.
3. How to practice.
Your child needs to know how to practice, a strategy, a simple method. Here is one that works and is easily explained to younger children. The child should play the piece through as best they can and identify the trouble spots. They then play those bars over a few times carefully and finally play the whole piece again.
4. Praise and more praise.
We all respond best to praise. The very best motivator your child can have is your approval. Compliment them on their playing, often. Praise them when they sit down to begin. Tell them how much you enjoy listening to their pieces. Make a big fuss.
5. Provide an audience.
When you can, give your child the chance to perform for you and other family members. Take older siblings into your confidence (they’ll love it) and explain the need for positive feedback! By giving your ‘Mozart’ the chance to show off their skills, they not only feel special, but will want to practice in order to give a good performance.
6. Liaise with their teacher.
Chat to their piano teacher often to get a feel for their expectations and requirements. It allows you both to work together to achieve the best for your child.
Some children respond to rewards and incentives. These can be useful. The most effective are ones which relate to the piano or music in some form. (For instance the promise of a visit to the local music shop to buy some music of their choice.)
Playing the piano is a skill which can bring you and your child lasting pleasure and enjoyment. It is meant to be fun. It is meant to be joyful. Motivate them by encouraging their natural playfulness, in making up tunes and experimenting with sounds and harmonies. Continually offer your support and words of encouragement. Our modern kids want to play modern music. Being able to play the latest pop tune to their classmates may prove to be the best motivator of all!