Let’s look at why practice is so necessary.
After years of teaching I know that to succeed in mastering the piano, three things are necessary:
- The determination to succeed
- Daily practice
- Good reading skills
If you are saying to your self, but my child doesn’t want to be a professional musician so there is no need to be practising long hours, you are only partly right.
Ponder these thoughts:
- How do you know that your child will not become super interested in music and want to take up music in some shape or form?
- Any amount of daily practice will give results if done regularly and with interest, but…
- Practice is only successful if it is done properly.
Children enjoy a challenge but most children don’t have a clue what they want to achieve or what to do at home.
This year I gave my students next year’s work before Christmas. Most welcomed the new challenges with great enthusiasm and couldn’t wait to get going. This suggests to me that the craving for new is a determining factor in the will to work. More about how to create interest in my next article. Let’s just talk a little about practice here.
- Your child should practise because playing the piano is a skill. The fingers and brain have to be trained to work together, just as you need to practise ball skills to succeed in that area. It is important to establish a practice routine right from the start of lessons.
- Your child should practise so that practising becomes a part of daily life, like brushing teeth. Even little children can be encouraged to play some pieces through each day in a fun way.
- Your child should practise everyday because establishing a routine is also easier for the parent to cope with. It just is – no questions.
- Your child should practise everyday because the amount of practice done determines the progress. But try not to watch the clock. Make practice goal-orientated.
- Your child should practise because not practising at all usually means an almost total lack of progress. Yes – unfortunately it is one after school activity that won’t happen by just turning up for lessons.
- Your child should practise to foster commitment which has a wonderful flow through into all other areas of endeavour.
Parental attitude plays a big part in the progress of the child. Children are little clones of their parents until at least teens, and sometimes life long. You may not realise it but they pick up your attitudes like a sticky ball. Children will not like a piece if a parent doesn’t like it. If you want them to take music lessons but show no interest they will not be interested either.
If parents nag a child to practise but again show no interest, the child will not want to practise. Wild enthusiasm, interest and support give better results than nagging. And of course gently enforcing the practice routine.
The first thing parents should do each week is to check what their child is supposed to be practising. I write the weekly goals in a notebook. These are what should be achieved by the next lesson. But often I find the notebook has not been opened and the child has played old pieces all week. Parents can help a lot by keeping their child focused on what needs to be done.
The goals for the week are carefully chosen by the teacher to address the different aspects of learning the instrument. It might be finger training, looking for patterns in music, theory essential for playing, ear skills or improving reading skills. Challenges faced and overcome become a strength.
Left to their own devices many children will avoid aspects that they find not so interesting, thus causing weaknesses that can grow and become problems.
Practise takes effort and concentration but the results are enormous. Children can become addicted to the sheer success of hard work. Surely that can’t be all that bad! Why should your child practise regularly? Because without practice there will be no progress and they will fail to learn to play the piano. Learning to play is not just for the talented, but a wonderful achievement that anyone prepared to work can do.