When I was a child, there was not as much competition for my time as there is for kids now. I realize that, but I believe that practicing the piano should be a habit. A habit like brushing your teeth everyday, exercising, doing homework.
In the beginning having a child practice Monday-Friday at least 15 minutes a day not only shows consistent advancement, but also decreases anxiety over practicing.
For example, every parent expects their child to do their homework every night and every child accepts that and it is worked in as part of their daily routine. When piano lessons are started, your child should add piano practicing as part of their daily routine.
If you plan exactly when and what time the piano practice will take place, then anxiety and fighting over practicing is eliminated. In return, the child knows what is expected of them and their reward is the confidence and fluidity of playing that comes from practicing.
Here are a some tips:
1. Sit with your child in the beginning and watch them practice. Then be in the room and listen to your child practice. It is very important to children that parents praise and listen to them when they practice.
2. Help make practicing a habit by doing it every day and if you can, at the same time every day. For some the morning is better, for others the afternoon, and others right after dinner. By doing this at the beginning, you will save having to remind your child to practice when they are older. I personally, tell my child to practice before any t.v. or video games, both things he’s rather do than practice, but he knows that’s the rule, so I don’t even have to remind him to practice, he just does it.
3. It takes about 3 years of practicing before a child begin to appreciate how s/he can play the piano and at this point will not want to stop. The first year is fun. The second is more challenging, and the one that requires constant practicing and encouragement. In the third year, your child becomes confident in their ability and your child will be considered a “musician.” This does not mean that you won’t have any complaints about practicing as it will continue to come up, off and on for different lengths of time for years.
4. Your child may want to quit from time to time. This is normal. Music lessons can go through difficult stages at times. It is at these times, discontinuing lessons may seem to be the obvious solution. Children, who are allowed to quit, rarely return to lessons. I have never heard an adult say, “I’m glad my parents let me quit.”
Children complain about homework but parents turn a deaf ear, sometimes with the piano, the same thing has to be done to get a child through the second year and then again the 4th and 5th year.
Parents wouldn’t think of letting their child show up for school without their schoolwork done, and that same attitude should be carried over to music lessons.