How much should my child practice?
This is the big question – one of the first I get from the parents of new students. The way you answer this question is so important. You are laying the groundwork for that student’s independent learning experience for years to come.
Practice time is a real commitment that the whole family makes when someone decides to take piano lessons. As a parent, you need to carefully consider what works for your style of family life. Be consistent, create a schedule, and make your child a participant in that scheduling. Also, consider how the family uses the room that holds the piano. Sometimes moving the piano to a different room – or even a hallway – can make all the difference.
In the beginning, simply practice until you are done.
In the beginning, simply practice until you are done. Because that may mean only 5 to 10 minutes of actual playing time, repeat that practice 2 or 3 times a day. Most people think that right after school is the appropriate time but sometimes that is not the best option. You can find unused time all through the day. First thing in the morning as you are preparing breakfast, lunchtime if your child can come home, right before or after dinner, or even as part of your evening routine.
Most teachers will follow a method that gives work each week on as musical concept that includes theory, technique, and pieces. Keep things together in a binder or portfolio. This is the business of your child’s piano practice. Make the taking out and putting away of their music part of the practice routine.
Make work copies of the written theory exercises so they can be repeated daily and keep them together.
Create a warm-up/technique library. As your teacher gives you exercises for specific problems, keep them filed in a book. Choose a few daily to use as a warm up to each practice.
Memorize new musical terms and use them in your everyday conversations.
Make your brain engage in many different ways.
At the piano, each piece should be repeated at least 3 times at each practice. Here is a good checklist that will increase that to at least 6 times and make your brain engage in many different ways as you practice. In some ways, it is like going to the gym. You have a routine to follow and a set number of “reps” on each apparatus to achieve.
Point and say the note names.
Play and say the note names.
Play and say the finger numbers.
Play and say the note values. Later: Play and count the rhythm.
Play and sing the words. Bonus: Make up your own additional lyrics or add lyrics to technique exercises.
Finally – PERFORM.
Find a way for your child to keep track of the repeats. Bring pencils, fun erasers, or even stuffies to the piano that can move from one side to the other of the keyboard.
Piano practice is a solitary endeavour.
Finally, be a companion to your child. Piano practice is a solitary endeavour. You don’t have to always be sitting there but listen, respond, remark, encourage, interact, praise, reward, so your child knows they are not alone and unheard.
For more information on optimizing your child’s piano lessons, make sure and follow the link in the resource box below.
Victoria Warfield has always been in demand as piano teacher. Her students have consistently maintained a keen interest in making beautiful music. Her students range in ability from beginner to performer, and in age from pre-schoolers to seniors. Her teaching style is a fusion of European and North American influences and methods, with a strong emphasis on note reading and music appreciation.
For more information about Victoria, click here now:
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