As in most areas of life, when it comes to music practice, a little bit of planning goes a long way! I am so thankful I wasn’t aware that piano was an optional/extra activity as a child. My parents approached music education like my scholastic education- it was just a part of my weekday routine!
To see exponentially greater results from your investment in music lessons for your child, take some time before the semester (or mid-semester!) to realistically determine how many practice sessions can be managed a week. Depending on your child’s attention span, I recommend at least twelve 15-minute sessions,nine 20-minute sessions, six 30-minute sessions- or any combination that adds up to at least 3 hours a week. (If your child thinks this is a lot of practice, tell them about the many teachers who require 5-10 hours of practice a week!)
Once you determine how many times your child can practice, “piggy-back” these sessions to something that will also be a regular segment of your routine. The more practicing is a part of your daily/weekly rhythm, the easier it is for everyone!
If your child has difficulty with focusing consistently in scheduled practice times, consider a goal-oriented practice approach. This takes more effort on the parent’s part, but can make practice so much more enjoyable and rewarding for your child!
First, divide the week’s assignment into as many (approximately equal) sections as your child will have practice sessions. The last section should be purely review over what he or she has practiced through the week. Make sure your child understands each section. Please contact me via text or email with any questions! I would love to address questions as soon as they arise!
Give your child the option of working through more than one goal a session. Your child could accomplish the entire assignment early. In that case, you could reward them with a day off of practice or some other reward that could help encourage such focused practice.
ENCOURAGE & INSPIRE
If your child can regularly master their assignment in less than three hours of practice, please encourage review, improvising, transposing, playing by ear and memorizing as ways to extend the lesson assignment.
Daily goals should include scales or other technique-building skills as well as some review over songs or drills the student knows and enjoys. Advancement on specific pieces can be more spread out, as long as the child continues to move forward with the piece.
For best results, parents can measure progress and adjust practice goals when needed by analyzing the amount of effort, frustration and completion/advancement in reaching their child’s daily goals. I really appreciate a heads-up from the parent when a child has had difficulty reaching their practice goal. This helps me lower my expectations and increase my patience in reviewing their last lesson.
In closing, please remember that a self-motivated or self-cultivated child is as rare as a self-watering/weeding plant (exception, definitely not common!). I will try my best to motivate my students to practice, but it is really the home support that is the key to a music student enjoying the fruits of consistent practice.