When your child first started piano lessons, chances are that her motivation to practice was high. The entire experience was new and exciting, and it was so much fun for her to sit at the piano to create music.
However, if your child is like many piano students, then her enthusiasm may have waned after a few months. Now, when you remind her that it's time to practice, you might hear things like:
- But I don't want to practice today!
- I just practiced yesterday!
- Piano practice is boring!
- Why do I have to take piano classes?
If these statements are a familiar refrain, then it's time to find a way to get your piano student back on track. Use one or more of these seven tips to motivate your child to complete their daily piano practice.
1. Devise a Reward System
You are already well aware how critical self-discipline is to success in all areas of life. Daily piano practice is one way to help instill the precepts of self-discipline in any child.
If your child does manage to keep up with daily practice over the course of weeks or months, then they are bound to make some pretty incredible progress.
Of course, it's first necessary to motivate your child to sit down for daily piano practice.
One of the best ways to do this is with a rewards system. It's not necessary for rewards to be big, flashy or expensive. Some kids love receiving a hug from their parents after practicing their piece a certain number of times. Stickers are huge motivators for other students.
Kids sometimes like to be able to track their daily practice on a chart. For each completed week of practice, they receive a sticker, special eraser or other prize.
2. Create Small Goals
Most people love the feeling of accomplishment that comes from meeting a goal. Goals don't have to be big, elaborate or take years to complete. In fact, some of the best goals are small, specific and easy to track.
Your child may be more motivated to practice piano when he has a goal that he's working toward. His goals may include things like:
- Using proper hand position throughout practice
- Maintaining good posture throughout practice
- Playing a piece through without any mistakes
- Mastering a particularly challenging phrase
Encourage your child to choose one thing about his playing that he really wants to improve. Then, ask him to think about how long he thinks it will take him to accomplish this goal. Set up a chart where he can track his progress, and definitely promise some kind of reward for an accomplishment.
Once again, it isn't necessary for the reward to be really big or expensive. It could be simple like a pack of five stickers, a set of colored pencils or a trip to the mini-golf course. Regardless of the specifics of the reward, make certain that it's something that is valuable and meaningful to your child to keep his motivation high.
3. Stick to Regular Practice Times
Most kids genuinely do thrive on routines and predictability. That's why it makes sense in most cases to set aside a certain time each day when piano practice occurs. Whether it's first thing in the morning or every day at 3:00 pm sharp doesn't really matter. What does matter is that your child has some say in when the practice happens.
For instance, you may want your child to get piano practice out of the way first thing in the morning, but he prefers to play just after the end of the day at school. Try to accommodate his preferences, as this may help to keep his motivation going over the long run.
Regardless of what time of day is chosen, it's sensible to stick to the same time every day. If another activity or responsibility interferes with piano practice on one day of the week, then choose an alternative time for practice on that day, and stick to it. That kind of predictability will help your child to recognize when it's time to sit at the piano, and he may be more motivated to actually do so.
4. Have a Weekly Concert
Lots of kids love the opportunity to take center stage, even if only their parents and siblings are in the audience. Knowing that they will have a time each week when all eyes and ears will be on them may be tremendously motivational for some kids.
Accordingly, it might be fun to set aside one piano practice session as an in-home "performance." Gather as many family members as are available to listen to the concert. Ask your child to play through her pieces without stopping, even if mistakes are made, just as she would do in a real performance.
Kids who are shyer and less keen to play in public, even when it's just their family, also may benefit from this approach as it's an opportunity to lose some of their fear of performance. When it's time for a recital, your shy child may be more excited about playing for a larger audience.
Additionally, don't overlook how motivational a larger performance can be. If your family is gearing up for a big holiday party or other event, ask your piano student to prepare some live entertainment.
Try out the popular Colorful Classics Songbook - 14 Historic Compositions arranged in a Colorful and Bold Style for Piano, Bells, Solfege and Boomwhackers!
5. Use Plenty of Praise
In most homes, when a child is practicing the piano it is impossible not to hear what they are playing. If you are often in the same room with your child as she practices, make certain to encourage her by saying things such as: "You're doing such a good job," "That piece is sounding so much better" and "You have come so far with that passage."
Similarly, it is wise to give her a little support when you know she's struggling. When a certain piece just doesn't seem to be coming together, let her know that you believe in her and her ability to tackle this challenge.
Kids love to hear praise, encouragement and positive reinforcement from their parents, so use these rewards liberally during piano practice. It may not hurt to have a dance party after a particularly good practice session too.
6. Allow Time to "Play" Rather than Practice
Practice can start to seem like drudgery to some piano students. That is why it may be valuable to take a break to just play.
That can look a little different for every student. Maybe it's taking time out to play a music-related game or spending some time composing their own music. Perhaps your student will try to pick out a popular tune on the piano. Or, you could set aside some practice time for the student to play the music that they prefer.
Occasional "play" instead of practice can put the fun back into piano lessons.
7. Find a New Teacher
Sometimes, a teacher and a pupil just don't speak the same language. Despite both being willing and well-intentioned, they just don't seem to make much progress.
Granted that it isn't necessarily easy to find a new piano teacher, but the effort can definitely be worthwhile. Many a frustrated student has blossomed under the tutelage of the right instructor.
Ask friends and family for recommendations, and keep your eyes open for advertisements on community bulletin boards. Who knows? Changing teachers may be the thing that finally motivates your piano student to commit to daily practice.
If you try these seven techniques and your child remains unmotivated to practice the piano, then perhaps it's time to consider whether or not the piano is the right instrument for him.
Maybe formal training on an instrument will never be for him. Perhaps he's destined to be an enthusiastic appreciator of music rather than a musician. There's nothing wrong with that, and there's nothing wrong with continuing to encourage a general appreciation of music.
What Can Prodigies Music Offer Your Child?
At Prodigies Music, we firmly believe that music is a foundational subject for all kids. That's why we've developed extensive programs that introduce the fundamentals of music to kids as young as toddlers. We rolled out the carpet for Chapter 1 of Piano Prodigies last August and are adding more episodes this Summer! Play along to Chapter 1 Piano Prodigies here!
Don't forget that you can still follow along with our current curriculum using a Piano. We recommend using Chroma-Notes™ Stick-Ons to help your child follow along on piano. Chroma-Notes™ Stick-Ons are removable stickers colored-coded to match our bells and curriculum. When your child is ready to transition to a piano, xylophone, guitar or any other instrument, you can use these stick-ons so the color-coded music is still relevant. Then, simply remove the residue-free stickers when they’re ready for black and white music! These stick-ons are a great way to make it easy for others to play along with the child on the bells, too!
Whether your child has expressed an interest in taking piano lessons or not, it's always the right time to start one of the fun and engaging programs at Prodigies Music. With our video classes, you'll be able to start a lifelong love of music in your child.