by Cassandra Clouser
Do you find your child waiting to practice the piano until 20 minutes before you have to leave for lessons? Or, maybe, she’s not even practicing at all? They may be even exhibiting some pre-lesson stress and anxiety because of the lack of practice?
Let me tell you this: the happiest and most successful students I have are not necessarily the most intelligent or talented; they are the ones with a healthy level of parental support in practicing. Let go of the fear that your child will become dependent on you to practice.
They need you to show them how to achieve sustainable habits of practice and productivity. It’s my goal here today to give you four keys that will significantly decrease piano practice stress and make everyone happier over the long haul.
Key # 1: Don’t leave practicing to chance
Practicing any craft is a habit that we create. In the words of Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Create with them a practicing schedule that is the same every week. I suggest practicing ideally every day. If this isn’t possible, then 5 – 6 days should be sufficient. At first there may be resistance, but once the habit is created, it will be worth it! Hang in there!
Key # 2: Experiment with time of day
There will be times of the day that your child is more mentally alert. I realize that we have homework to work around also, but why not make piano practice a part of their home study agenda? Each child is different, but here are two times I find children to be most productive:
- Right after school following a light snack. (Fuel is key!)
- Weekend mornings
Key # 3: Create Practice and Performance Goals
This one is SO important. We humans work so well when we are passionate about a goal. Working toward the goal gives us drive and direction. Make sure that your child is getting enough performance opportunity. This could be in the form of recitals, performance classes, performing for family and friends, or performing in nursing homes, etc.
Key # 4: Design an Incentive with Your Child
A well-prepared musical performance is an incentive in itself. Playing the piano is a social skill that adds to not only our own happiness, but to the happiness of others. But, you can go the extra mile and create periodic incentives to keep them going along the way. Create a monthly practice poster that gets filled with stickers. Maybe after a week or two of successful practicing, they receive a privilege, or get to go out and do something special with mom, dad, and/or the whole family.
Make music a family affair! Your child, and you child’s piano teacher, will thank
you for it. :O)