How to help your child practise

Encouraging your child to practise their instrument might be difficult as instruments don’t have glowing buttons, cool features and games like smartphones do… Unfortunately, there’s not one solution that will get kids excited to practise their instrument, but here are a few strategies you can try out that might make a difference. 

  • Find the right piano teacher.

It is very important to find the right piano teacher for your child in order to connect with their teacher. Your teacher might be highly qualified, but they won’t be able to successfully teach your child if they don’t get along well. Look out for signs on whether your child gels with their teacher by simply paying attention to how they talk about their teacher. It might be a good idea to undergo a trial lesson before your child starts with lessons, but can also only provide that first impression, keep monitoring the situation in the following lessons. If your child likes their teacher, it will avoid many disheartening practise sessions down the line. 

Music teacher, piano teacher
  • Keep practise sessions short.

Children would much rather work through two short practise sessions of 10 to 15 minutes each day, rather than dreading an hour of practise once or twice a week. Consistent practise every day will reinforce new skills on a consistent basis, rather than saving all the practise for the weekend. Daily repetition of hand movements and exercises is a very important aspect of practise for most accomplished musicians. You will realise that your child’s progress slows when there are long gaps between their practise sessions. Slow progress will ultimately lead to a decrease in motivation to practise in the first place. 

Practice time
  • Patience is key. 

You can’t expect your child to play big pieces by Chopin and Beethoven after only a few weeks of lessons. Learning music takes a lot of time and patience. Try to give your child the freedom to learn at their own speed and encourage them for any achievement no matter how small it may be. It is important to understand that every child learns in their individualised way and at a different pace. 

  • Create a practise log.

Creating a practise log helps your child in setting goals and holding themselves accountable to achieve them and be proud of it. They say it takes 10 000 hours of practise to become a professional at something, but of course that refers to 10 000 hours of intentional, focused and goal-oriented practise. By creating and achieving small goals, like spending 10 minutes on 2 bars of music, make a big amount of work much less intimidating and ensures consistency in progress. 

  • Make it fun.

Try different ways to create a game-like scenario for your child’s practise session. An example of this could be how cellist Joshua Nakazawa avoids playing through his pieces in a dreaded manner by implementing a fun practise strategy called “three penny practise”.

You simply put three pennies on the left side of your music and when you approach a troublesome passage, you play it once, and if you succeed in that attempt, you move the penny to the right side. If you play it again and succeed, then you move the next penny to the right. If you fail whether it’s in the form of rhythm, dynamics, incorrect notes etc., you must move all three pennies back to the left. The goal of this game is to play the passage correctly three times in a row in order to get all three pennies on the right. After succeeding in one passage the next “level” would be to connect the troublesome passage to the section(s) before it and after it. 

  • Plan performances.

By consistently having performances to work towards your child won’t easily get discouraged by practising for some endless goal. Consistent performances are one of the best ways to keep your child motivated to practise.

I hope I have given you some inspiration to move away from those endless, dreaded practice sessions to getting your child excited and motivated to practise their instrument.

Do you have some tips on making practise for your child painless and fun?

Please share your ideas in the comments section!

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