I hope you enjoyed the holidays! Often coming back to practising the piano after a break can be a challenge. Even if your kids look forward to the class, practising might be another story this month. I just want to let you know that you are not alone, many families go through this struggle, and it gets better.
Your kids are past the stage of realising that music lessons are a daily commitment (unlike swimming or other extra-curricular activities). In hockey for example “practice” is completely structured, directed, and supervised. As much as you want your child to want to practice on their own, they still need you. Many of them don’t yet have the maturity of “If I work hard at this then I will improve”. You can play them recordings of how they sounded at the beginning of the year, and seeing the improvement motivates many kids. Still, it’s easier to just show up to a “practice” surrounded by a group, and be directed by the instructor. That’s you! 🙂 For our music classes, your kids will still need your daily direction in practice sessions. They need your cheers and daily encouragement.
So how do you encourage your child to practice daily? It has to be fun! So how do you turn “practice” into “play”? Well, you’ll notice that there are certain aspects of the lessons your kids find fun. It could be clapping a rhythm and writing the story with a sibling, it could be singing, playing an ensemble on a percussion instrument, the homework pages, the piano pieces, the scales, the tinsheet… Try to make it fun. In the “Summer Fun” booklet I had a lot of ways to make it more interesting – using chalk, or cheerios on the tinsheet, or pots and pans to play ensembles. So if your child is struggling with finding notes on the tinsheet for example, you could have them try it with a snack, or in one of the apps (http://musicnora.ca/links-and-downloads/ like flash note derby). Try to squeeze their challenge in between two fun things. Though I offer practice incentives and rewards, some children just need your attention.
Try to put everything aside and give your full attention. It’s tough (I get it), but it’s the BEST thing you can do to ensure success. Once they have your attention, try to be innovative in your approach to practice.
There are some students that think practice time is at the piano only. There’s actually a lot you can do that’s not at the piano. You can play tinsheet games (practice), sing a song in the car (practice), play your scale with your eyes closed (practice), clap back fun rhythms in different dynamics, play a game with your flashcards. I promise I will count it all as practice.