Building Practice Habits
Playing the piano, or mastering any other
skill for that matter, requires regular and consistent practice. This means doing it.
Very young children can’t be expected to practice alone, or for long. To start with you simply want to build regular time at the piano to play tunes, five minutes a couple of times a day to sing songs, do theory, or listen to the recordings. Anything that can be called “music practice” so that the regular habit starts to form. Games and lists are great, lots of stickers and other incentives (make them work for them), whatever gets them to the piano with a positive outlook.
As children get older they will occasionally make a bid for more independence, discuss it with me, but as an expert in your individual child, it’s ultimately up to you to make the call as to whether they are ready for it or not. If they aren’t, we need to find a way to keep things amicable, if they are, be prepared for a lot of fairly shoddy practice and not necessarily the pace of progress you are used to. Be patient, it’s worth it when they figure it out.
Whether you are supervising every session, reading a book in the next room and pretending you’re not listening like a hawk, or leaving your kids on their own all day to get on with it, take good notes in lessons, and the more detailed the better; then, when you get home there is a framework around which to structure practice.
Parents are the organisers of practice, children are the executors of it. Talk to your child at a level they understand and agree on what needs to be done, and then try to address the elements that the lesson highlighted. Go for practicing particular skills rather than playing lots of repertoire (that's a different thing)
, and become an expert on when your child has had enough, before they notice, so that you can call it quits while everyone is still smiling.
Ultimately there are three stages to practising.
1. Learning – fun and engaging, new things are always interesting, happens in the lesson
2. Repetition – difficult, needs a grown up to help out, happens at home
3. Mastery – fun and easy, playing things you love