17 answers

Creative Ideas for Encouraging Piano Practice

I was wondering if anyone had any creative ideas on how to get my eight-year-old daughter to practice the piano. I'm not one of those forceful types; my daughter wants to play the piano. She's been playing for two years and her teacher says she has natural talent. For the first year and a half, she didn't have to work very hard because it came so naturally. Now, she wants to progress and play harder music, but gets frustrated when it doesn't just "happen". I asked her if she wanted to quit and she said no--emphasizing that she really wants to play. That being said, does anyone have any creative ideas on how to encourage her to practice? I want to encourage, not force...we've tried sticker charts, penny jar, and attending concerts of accomplished pianists (which she liked). I want her to realize that if she wants this, it will take work, but it also needs to be enjoyable for her too. Any thoughts and/or ideas are appreciated. Thanks!

3 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for everyone's responses for encouraging my daughter to practice the piano. We ended up continuing to attend concerts and do fun recitals; then we told her she had a choice to make: If she wanted to continue, she'd need to practice. It worked for her because she really wants to play the piano and she took ownership of her talent. She picked a time to practice every day and does it along with her homework. I also took the backseat and do not force anything. She is really enjoying it right now, especially because she knows she worked for it. Thanks everyone!

Featured Answers

Hi,

I have two kids who play the piano and just love it! Their teacher has the parents sign how many days a week they practice ( they are supposed to practice 5 days every week) and once they get to 15 days they earn a candy bar. You could try something similar at home. The other thing I have found is that looking for books that have "fun" songs in them. Each of my kids have a solo book in addition to their lesson and theory book. It has disney songs, or songs they know in them and when they pass off so many songs, she gives them a few fun songs to work on that go along with what they are learning.

I would try getting some fun music that she would like to play and let her practice that along with her lessons. When I was taking piano lessons, I would play a lot of songs that I liked and that got me the practice I needed to improve. Now I can sight read anything! Hope this helps! Good luck!!

More Answers

Hi M.,

I read a great article about how to motivate your kids a couple weeks ago- Stop the Stalling: How to Help Kids Stop Wasting Time, you can access it at the link below

http://lifestyle.msn.com/your-life/family-parenting/artic...

When I was trying to find that one, I also stumbled across another article titled: How to Motivate your musical child, from Parenting, which offered the following tips:

1. Sit nearby. Even if it's just for several short sessions per week, you can limit distractions by staying close by while he plays.

2. Keep the instrument handy and in plain view. Seeing it each day will remind him to practice, and he might be more likely to pick it up if it's right there.

3. Build practice time into his daily activities. Setting aside time before leaving for school or right after dinner each day will help your kid remember to make rehearsing routine.

4. Hold "concerts." Have your child perform for you and your family on a regular basis. Tell him specific things you love about his playing, and keep yourself up-to-date with what he's working on so you can comment on improvements at each show."

I like the fourth suggestion the best; often it's hard to recognize our own accomplishments when it just feels like frustration but we don't feel like we're getting any better. A concert for the family will give her something to look forward to and a chance for her to receive recognition for all of her hard work- giving her (only) complements afterward will really help her feel like progress is inevitable:)

I really wish that I had more guidance to pursue my musical interests as a child- it can be discouraging but a very rewarding form of expression when you get good at it.

Definetly make it enjoyable by breaking it down; ie. ten mins. a day on two different songs or whatever will prevent burn-out.

Good luck to both of you.

2 moms found this helpful

I have five kids, and they all took piano lessons from age four on. I told them that it was just like brushing their teeth, it was something that they just had to do. One child ended up taking for 14 years, all of the kids that quit after 4 or 5 years regret it now that they are adults. All of my kids were gifted in math, and I credit their years of piano with helping them in thier schoolwork. The best advice that i ever heard was from an elderly lady that could play anything that you told her to play. the music would just flow from her fingers and she was always smiling as she played or singing along. It was a joy to listen to her. The keys on the piano seemed to just be an extension of her body. She said that when she was a little girl, her mom would say to her, "Pat, I need for you to wash the dishes right now, but if you want to practice your piano instead, I will do that chore for you"

1 mom found this helpful

M.,

First, realize how blessed you are to have a daugther that really gets that she wants to do this. When I was her age my mother asked me a similar question. The question was: If we pay for piano lessons will you practice every day? My answer at the time: NO. As someone that felt your daughters frustration I realize what a challenge practice is for her.
I was born with the natural ability to play anything I heard on the piano. Because of the choice that I made at age 10, I rarely even take the opportunity to sit at a piano.

The best way to encourage: Have her set her standard. Assist her to go deep on this one. How badly does she want it? What sacrifices is she willing to give for it? and Will is hold herself accountable to practice?

This is not something that you get to do. This is something that is up to your daughter. Assist her by helping her to see that she is accountable for her choice.

With my whole heart,
C. TLC (Transition Life Coach)

We all have a choice: Going through the motions of Life
or transcending life and living it to its fullest.

The concerts are a brilliant idea. I would take it a step further. Most artists would give you a brief "interview" with your daughter. I would find someone she really enjoys or is rather accoplished and have them tell their experience of getting over that lack of discipline hump. I ended up quitting violin, although very talented, because we moved to a rural area where I had no easy access to concerts and such. I got bored really quickly.

I would try getting some fun music that she would like to play and let her practice that along with her lessons. When I was taking piano lessons, I would play a lot of songs that I liked and that got me the practice I needed to improve. Now I can sight read anything! Hope this helps! Good luck!!

It sounds like you are very sensitive to your child's signals, which is a great start! I tell my piano students' parents that in order for the kids to practice, 1st and foremost, they have to love what they are playing. When they love it, they will see the benefit in working at it. The 2nd year of piano brings in more challenges that will turn her playing gradually more pianistic-sounding. There is no getting around the fact that at 1st, it will require more effort, like learning any other NEW skill, be it reading, playing soccer, learning how to type, etc. If she is putting positive effort into her practice, you will all see that gradual improvement. Until the new techniques being learned become engrained, it will simply not happen automatically. Everything you are doing is perfect, so don't stop. The reward stickers and concert attendance are so important. I wish everybody did this at home! So as an encouraging parent, which you already are :-) help her see her progress. Find out what gets her frustrated - it may be what I call "tricky spots" - talk to her teacher about how to help her through those spots at home, esp. if you don't already read music yourself. Listen in or sit with her at her practice time, and point out any positives you can find in her playing, even if it's just at the beginning of the piece. When she perceives that her hard efforts are paying off, evidenced by her getting through the tricky spots gradually or by others complimenting her on how much her piece has improved in the last 2 weeks, she will find benefit in her practice, one more reason to "love" her piano practice, and you will find her going to the piano more on her own. Keep in mind that, over time, the stickers will get old, and you'll have to think of something new to replace them. What you want is for HER to see her OWN reward in the love she develops for the songs she is working on, and for music in general. I think she is blessed to have you as her mom in that you are already cultivating that love for her! Best regards!

Aside from the great advice you have already gotten, I have another idea not mentioned: Make a video of her attempting the hard music when she first practices, and then make another one of her doing the same piece after she has practiced it for a week. Seeing the progress she has made may encourage her to devout more time to it.

Best Wishes,

A.

Hi,

I have two kids who play the piano and just love it! Their teacher has the parents sign how many days a week they practice ( they are supposed to practice 5 days every week) and once they get to 15 days they earn a candy bar. You could try something similar at home. The other thing I have found is that looking for books that have "fun" songs in them. Each of my kids have a solo book in addition to their lesson and theory book. It has disney songs, or songs they know in them and when they pass off so many songs, she gives them a few fun songs to work on that go along with what they are learning.

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