Encouraging a Practice Routine
We love it when kids randomly sit down at the piano to play a song they like just for the fun of it, but if that’s the only kind of practice they’re getting then they’re missing out on the kind of progress they can make with a solid practice routine.
Most kids need a little encouragement to stick with a piano practice routine. The key is to recognize your importance as a parent in helping your child succeed at daily, effective piano practice, and to know how to encourage it in such a way that both you and your child will enjoy the experience. The last thing we ever want to do is make music practice into a battle! So here are some ways to make regular piano practice a positive part of your day.
TIMER VS. GOALS
Many parents want to know how long their piano student should be practicing. For beginning piano students, you don’t want it to be about how long they practice. Rather than setting a timer, set practice goals.
Practice goals for an early beginning student can be very simple. A student might play one exercise, play a through a new song three times while working to correct mistakes, then review one old song, and then be done. Even if it only took five minutes, it was structured, it involved a little bit of challenge, and it helped build a habit of daily piano practice.
As students advance through the piano lessons, you can gradually add more to their practice routine. Reviewing good piano posture, doing exercises, working on a new song, reviewing all the songs they’ve already learned, sight reading, playing by ear, and doing a worksheet or activity from the lesson materials are all good things for piano students to do on a daily basis. As a rule of thumb, by the end of their first year in piano lessons, students tend to be practicing about 20-30 minutes.
Teach a child to play a song, and that child can play a song. Teach a child to practice, and they can learn anything! Good piano practice needs guidance, especially in the early stages of a child’s music education.
There are two main things you can do as a practice partner. One is to encourage your child to reach their practice time goals. Another is to make practice time challenging and fun. Your job is NOT to sit beside them and tell them all the things that they are doing wrong. If you notice your child making a mistake, rather than saying, “You’ve missed that note three times in a row!” say, “Let’s play a game. I’m going to set a penny on the piano every time you play that measure correctly. When you have five pennies, you win!”
If you can’t sit down next to your child during practice time, listen from nearby and check in on them often. Children love attention, especially positive attention. Let them know how much you appreciate how hard they are working and point out how much they are learning and improving.
With the habit of a good piano practice routine established, your child will be on their way to success in their piano studies, and a lifetime of making music.