How You Can Help Your Child to Practice

Organizing daily piano practice

To build muscle strength and coordination, piano students “train” by practicing every day.  Parents can assist their children in these ways:

Scheduling: In the fall, as soon as the school schedule has been set, with your child, choose a time for practicing on each day of the week. Divide the practicing into sections if you like. Morning practice gets the best results, so schedule some before school if at all possible. Post this schedule near the piano.

Environment: During practice time, keep the room quiet. No phone calls, no video games, no TV or other distractions.

Supervision: See that the student follows the order & the instructions in the teacher’s lesson notes. Make sure each item on the assignment sheet is covered every day, or at least every other day.

If you think of and talk about practicing simply as a part of your family’s daily routine (like brushing teeth, doing homework, eating breakfast), you will find that your children see it that way, too. This eliminates a lot of needless discussion.

We all have occasional bad days, but anyone who loves music and is practicing correctly will usually find satisfaction and pleasure in his daily work. If your child isn’t experiencing that, talk to me.

How can you tell if your child is practicing well?

Listen to your child’s practicing. Whether you play piano or not, you can tell the difference between good practicing and fooling around.

Good practicing does not sound like a concert. It sounds like the solving of a musical puzzle. It means perfecting one small part of the puzzle at a time, and then fitting the parts together little by little.

How can you help your child on a bad day?

  • Help your child with some practice tips from the Piano Student’s Guide to Effective Practicing.
  • Ask questions — not quiz questions, but things you really want to know.
  • Ask to be taught a piece or one part of a piece.
  • Praise something you hear; criticism tends to make a bad day worse.
  • Suggest a temporary change of routine—sight-reading or “playing through” or spending more time on a favorite piece.

Remember that the habits you help to instill in your children are priceless attributes that will serve them well not only in music but in all areas of their lives.

For more guidance for parents see the Parent’s Guide to Effective Practicing

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