Congratulations on taking a big step toward enriching your child’s life through music study. Playing the piano offers so many wonderful benefits to your child on so many levels.
I am speaking through my 30+ years of music teaching experience when I offer you the following advice:
BE INVOLVED IN YOUR CHILD’S MUSIC STUDY!
Here are some suggestions for how you can be involved;
Help your child make and maintain a consistent practice schedule.
Encourage your child often by listening to them play at home and giving positive feedback.
Attend their performances and let them know that you WANT to be there.
Help them be responsible for their weekly assignment by regularly checking their notebooks and making sure they are following through with lesson details.
Provide practice incentives. Saying “…you’ll be glad I made you take lessons when you’re grown up” doesn’t usually work. Kids don’t often think much past their next meal. What DOES work is saying things like ” …if you successfully practice your lesson this week, you may have a friend over on Friday night” or, “we’ll have an ice cream outing” or, “you can pick your favorite dinner” or “we’ll spend Saturday morning together watching a movie” or anything else that you know they especially desire. You get the idea.
Come to one (or more) of their lessons. Or, just come in and listen to the first or last 15 or so minutes with interest. Kids love to show off the things they’ve learned and they love to have your attention.
One of the many things piano lessons teach children is self discipline. Practice is a discipline. It is rare that a child just always loves to practice. Therefore, as their parent, don’t be surprised when they express their occasional discontent about practicing. Just calmly remind them that just like we daily brush our teeth or make our beds, or whatever, we also practice our music instrument.
Try not to make piano practice sound like a punishment (“you HAVE to go practice NOW”!) Rather, ask your child to go “play those songs that I just LOVE” or “show me again those technical exercises that I can’t do” or “can I see what you learned at your lesson”? And, of course, when they are through, let them know that you are proud of them for being responsible and making the effort.
Provide a positive practice environment for your child. A well tuned piano with good lighting is important. Make sure the bench is the appropriate height. Also, where is your piano located? Is it in a desirable place in your home where your child still feels like part of the family or is it in the corner of the basement? Would YOU want to sit there and practice? Is it inviting? Can you HEAR your child practicing? Telling them to put the headphones on the keyboard or close the bedroom door so you don’t have to hear them is sending the wrong message. If YOU are interested in what they are playing, chances are, THEY will also be interested.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. The Parent-Student-Teacher triangle must have each person doing their part in order to be successful. I thank you, dear parents, for your efforts and continued support. It is greatly appreciated!