7 Tips to Encourage your Child to Practice Piano
At times, parents may encounter resistance from their kids, towards practicing the piano. Here are 7 tips that help piano practice from feeling like an uphill struggle.
1. Make it a Habit
We recommend having a set time to practice the piano everyday. Habits are formed through a cue, which is a signal to begin an action. For example, if I want my child to practice piano after school, a cue might be eating an afternoon snack followed immediately by piano practice.
2. Practice Time Should Not Be Too Long
Experts say that the typical child has an attention span of 2 to 5 minutes per year of age. 5 year olds would have attention spans of 10 to 25 minutes before they get distracted or need a break. We would not recommend practicing for more than 30 minutes per day for a 5 year old. If your child can last at most 10 minutes and you are aiming for a total of 30 minutes, don’t be afraid to take a short pause. These small breaks should be simple and brief. Taking a sip of water, eating a small snack, or having a bathroom break are good examples. You don’t want your child to be fully engaged in another activity before returning for the next ten minute block of piano practice.
3. Remove Distractions
Turn off the TV, remove tablets and toys from the practice area.
4. Be Present
Younger kids love to spend time with parents so it is no surprise that sometimes a child simply wants a parent to be in the same room before they are willing to start piano practice.
5. Make Piano Practice Engaging
If you want to be more hands-on and have some background in music, you can engage your child by “playing the fool”. This means intentionally playing a scale or a piece incorrectly and asking your child if you played the music beautifully. Children LOVE to point out mistakes made by their parents. They will gladly “teach” their parents how to do it correctly. Another way to participate in piano practice is to count with the child as they play their piece and if the opportunity arises, play the piece with them. You can play the left hand while your child plays the right hand. It is a wonderful way to bond with your child and makes piano practice feel like teamwork.
6. Set Realistic Goals for Every Practice
Your child’s piano teacher assigns weekly homework. Break that homework up into smaller parts or create goals that your child can accomplish during each practice. Goals for beginners can be as simple as playing a piece X number of times before taking a break, playing the right hand without any mistakes, counting out loud, taking less breaks during practice,...etc. Goals provide focus for your child and by making them simple, you also teach your child that they can overcome difficulties through practice.
7. Give Praise and Encouragement
Celebrate your child’s successes. Acknowledge their dedication and accomplishments. If your child spontaneously decides to give a performance, talk proudly about how hard your child has been practicing and how impressed you are with the performance. Praise your child for counting correctly, playing a scale evenly, keeping good posture, increased attention span, their effort and dedication in overcoming a difficult piece...etc.
Through regular piano practice, your child will gain skills and develop the mental toughness to handle challenges on a regular basis. It is up to you, the parent, to push for consistent piano practice, nurture newfound skills, and to give encouragement when your child wants to give up. The piano is not an easy instrument to learn but it is certainly achievable for anyone who is willing to put the time into regular practice.