10 Ways to Help Your Child Practice

As parents, you play a crucial role in your child’s success in learning to play an instrument. Even if you don't play the piano yourself, your support and guidance during practice time is extremely important to the music learning process.  Do your best to encourage and support your child’s practicing, based on the teaching and learning process we use in lessons (here are Five Helpful Practice Steps).

Your guidance throughout the week has a significant effect on the development of successful practicing habits.  Here are a few things you can do:

1. Ask your child to tell you one things s/he learned after each lesson.

2. At the first practice time following the lesson, spend a few minutes helping your child review each piece on their assignment sheet.  This will help reinforce everything we worked on in the lesson.

3. Encourage regular practicing.  Build 15-20 minutes into your child's schedule at least five days per week.  Practicing is a habit just like brushing your teeth!

4. Ask your child to play one or more of their pieces during the course of the week to show you his/her progress.

5. Record your child "performing" their favorite piece.  Then, watch/listen to the performance together.

6. Ask your child to teach you one of their pieces!

7. Encourage your child to improvise/make their own pieces.  Give them ideas for song material (pets, thunderstorm, clock ticking, birds singing, etc.) or challenge them to create a piece based on a familiar text (Nursery rhyme or other children's poem).

8. If your child is willing and eager, create opportunities for him/her to "perform."  Gather friends and family for an informal recital!

9. Create a repertoire box.  As your child learns new pieces, write down the titles on slips of paper and add them to the box (a tissue box works well!).  Once a week or at the end of each practice session, let your child choose a familiar piece from the box to review/perform.

10. Encourage rhythm and movement activities outside of your child's scheduled practice time.  These activities might take place away from the keyboard but reinforce and develop the skills learned in lessons.

There are lots of ways to help your child succeed in piano lessons - these are just a few ideas.  Most importantly, provide encouragement and support, listen to them play and talk about what they're learning, and show them that music is something to be valued.