Top Secret Parent Tips to Encourage your Child to Practice
- Practice “up” not “down”: Instead of setting a timer for a specific amount of time for your child and having them watch for the time to go down, have them set a stopwatch timer that shows how much time they have practiced going up. At the end of the practice session, once their goals for the day have been accomplished, the student writes how much time it took to accomplish their goals into their assignment book. This idea keeps students from watching the clock and practicing just to get their minutes in. Stopwatch timers can be found on most cell phones, some oven timers, and on stopwatches (of course!)
- Make a chart: Does your child need to remember to practice at least 5 days a week? Make a chart that rewards them for practicing 5+ days/week. Does your child need to work on their attitude toward practicing at home? Make a chart that rewards them for not complaining when you tell them to practice, or rewards them for practicing on their own, without being told. Students can be rewarded for just about anything they need more practice on, and you can easily make a sticker chart on the computer.
- Use the TV to help you: What? The TV remote? One smart parent told her child that every time she picks up the TV remote that she needs to think back to if she’s practiced the piano or not. If she hasn’t, she has to go practice at that time, then she can come back to the TV. (This should also work with computers, too!)
- Let your child choose when to practice: If you let your child choose when to practice, he will feel like he’s had a choice in the matter. (Don’t let him choose whether or not to practice—just when.) That alone can improve a child’s attitude toward practicing.
- Practice before doing homework: You may disagree with this one first, but please hear me out. If students practice piano before doing homework, most students will then stay up late to get the homework done. If the reverse is done, where homework is done first, many students will just skip practicing piano if it gets late.
- Money talks: One parent told me that their child has to pay them a dollar for every day she doesn’t practice. Another parent makes their child pay for any lessons that they skip going to, or for weeks with zero practice time.
- "That's my favorite piece:" If a student is struggling with a piece, say, "That's my favorite piece. Can I please hear it again?" Not only will they play it more, they'll want to play it more, knowing that you like it (even if you don't!)
- Purchase a piano or tune your piano: Students get very discouraged playing on keyboards. If their instrument sounds like a toy, they will treat it like a toy and won't take it seriously. (See the link to Pianos vs. Keyboards.) Also, if your piano sounds "sick" and is out of tune, students will not enjoy the sounds coming out of it, np matter what they play. Getting it tuned should help. Students can only sound as good as the instrument they are practicing on.
- Chores vs. Piano: As a parent, say, "Would you like to do dishes after dinner, or would you like to practice while I do dishes? The catch is, you have to practice for the same amount of time it takes me to do the dishes." Then, take a really long time. (This is one trick shared by Joyce Grill, a composer and teacher. Her mom played this trick on her for years before she figured out what was going on.)
If you have any more parent tips for me, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you!
*Used with permission by Lundblad Piano Studio