This is an excerpt from The Essential Guide for Boosting your Child’s Piano Skills. For more tips for both students and parents, download the full guide on Gumroad.
Enrolling your child in piano lessons is a big commitment. You’re investing time, money, and energy.
Here are a few of my insider’s tips on how to set your child up for success:
This may seem obvious, but it is absolutely essential. Piano lessons are not a hands-off experiment. Unless you have the most self-motivated of children, he needs your help—not just a ride to lessons, not just providing the books, or paying for the lessons. Your child needs your help practicing.
Encourage practice early in the week
It is incredibly easy to forget details about anything after a day or so. Can you remember how much you paid for groceries two days ago? Or what three things you were supposed to do after that meeting? Similarly, if your child waits a couple of days after a lesson before opening her books, it’s not likely she’ll remember much of what the teacher talked about.
Placement of the Piano & House Environment
Place the piano or keyboard in a central location, not a corner in the basement. If the piano is prominent and in an area of your home that receives plenty of foot traffic, it is more likely to get played. At the same time, your child may struggle to focus if there is too much foot-traffic during their practice time. Providing a distraction-free practice environment is a huge service you can do for your child.
Non time-related goals
Help your child set and attain practice goals that are unrelated to the length of time they are sitting at the piano. Anyone can sit at the piano for 20 minutes a day, aimlessly playing old songs, new songs, or just making things up. A good rule of thumb would be to play each piece 3 times during each practice session.
Encourage student responsibility
Try to find a middle ground between support and micro-managing. Hopefully, your student’s sense of personal responsibility for practicing will grow over time. If it doesn’t, check in and see if there is an area that you’re too involved in.
Structure & Variety
Help your child create a structure for her practice time. Maybe it’s a simple as “play every piece three times.” Or maybe your child would benefit from more structure. If so, help her establish that. Variety is the counterbalance to structure. If the structure you and your child have agreed upon starts to feel cumbersome or stops being helpful, make a change. If your practice time feels stressful, experiment with something new.
Schedule a regular practice time for your student. Scheduling piano practice into your child’s day helps set an expectation for your child. It communicates the importance of practicing and helps you set realistic goals.
Helping your child become a pianist is no easy task. Give yourself some grace and be open to making some mistakes along the way. Your support and interest will make an incredible difference in the long run.
You’ve got this!
If you want more ideas and tips (AND a set of tips I wrote specifically for students), check out the full guide and student companion edition here.