Lesson #1 for Mindee: make sure your post actually appeared when you thought you published it to the site. Oh well, you guys will get a double-dose of piano posts this week!
Last week we covered a lot of the concerns for parents with kids who don’t practice piano at home during the week. In that post, we discussed the benefits of piano lessons all on their own, (be sure to check it out if you didn’t get the chance!). This week, I’m going to outline three main suggestions for motivating students to practice at home. All three can be introduced by the teacher, but ultimately the parents are the ones who can help incorporate these habits throughout the week. Let’s get started!
1. Repetition doesn’t have to be dull.
It’s inevitable. Throughout the week, your student will be working on the same song(s) every day. If we know that we have to do the same thing over and over, why not change it up a little every time?
I first saw this idea through Teach Piano Today, (one of favorite piano blogs). In fact, that blog is chalked full of great ideas for parents and teachers alike, so I will post a link below. In the post, Andrea and Trevor Dow outlined a fun activity for teachers to use for song repetition during lessons. Basically, you put a bunch of variations on slips of paper to draw out of a hat. So instead of playing the song the same way over and over again, the student gets the chance to, (for example) play with only one eye open, as properly as the queen of England, with a clap after every eight beats, etc. This is such a fun way to shake things up a bit during lessons and during practice-time at home.
Check out their blog post with a list of practice variations below:
2. Piano Games Aren’t Just for Teachers.
Personally, I believe that the best kind of education does not just take place at school or during lessons. The most effective way to teach a concept is to reinforce that concept at home! Feel free to look over any of the online resources I have listed below for great piano games to keep in your home. If you have any questions regarding a game you found and how it works, (not all piano parents are musicians and that’s ok!) please feel free to send me a message and I’ll be happy to help! In the list below, you’ll find a wide variety of activities intended for all ages with a wide span of difficulty levels.
I believe that with enough reinforcement of musical concepts at home, students become more familiar with the material and are often less intimidated to practice. For more specific suggestions, feel free to message me about the lesson book and level your child is currently in, and I will respond with some ideas that are personalized for your child.
3. Kids who are exposed to piano repertoire early will have a stronger affinity for it.
We’ve all heard about the little “baby Mozart” albums, with theories about babies listening to classical music from infancy and therefore becoming geniuses! Maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. I’m not an expert on child psychology and development. What I do know is that kids who are familiar with certain styles of music will not find it to be nearly as much of a foreign language when they try to create it themselves. Much like bilingual children and families, kids who hear the “language” of the music they’re learning from an early age are much more ready for it when it appears in front of them at the piano.
The best way to start this early exposure is to find ways to incorporate music into your home, and not with your typical Spotify playlist (although those are probably wonderful!) Try to find some time to play classical, ragtime, jazz, new age, and other piano repertoire in your home. The more styles you’re able to expose your child to, the more they have the chance to get a little excited about it when they get to it during music lessons. In my experience, students who recognize the songs they have to play feel more excited about learning them, and feel more accomplished when they pass them off.
I hope you found this post helpful. Join me in about five minutes when I post about our studio recital held at Summerhays Music in Murray Utah. It was an absolute blast!