In case you have not yet noticed, by and large children are not self-motivated. As adults we realise that if we put our minds to something, work through the steps, do the work and don’t give up, we can pretty much acquire any skill. Children in fact do just this when they learn to walk, or teach themselves to do pretty much any of their early skills. But learning the piano is different.
If we can capture their imagination we are off to a flying start, but this doesn’t work for all children. Often children can’t work out themselves the best way to play a piece. They revert to what has served them well in the past – repeat it often enough and it will come good. The complexity of the piano means this in all probability won’t work, so self-motivation dies.
For these difficult tasks, though we may be working on boosting motivation, rewards can fill a short-term gap. Bribery perhaps, but it works!
In the studio I use various incentive to encourage progress.
At home you may have to find little rewards to encourage practice. Practice is essential, so set a time each day. Smile but be firm then use rewards if you really must. You probably have a lot of ideas. Here are a few that people have told me work for them.
- Sticker chart on fridge
- Jar of marbles – put marble in for each good practice, when full give a special treat e.g. special meal, trip to somewhere special
- Biggest hug in world for a great practice
- Lunch order at school for a good week of practice
- Small treat in lunchbox
You get the idea. But please don’t overdo it. One pupil told me his mother would give him $100 if he passed his exam! Way over the top! Why is he learning piano – for joy or for the gains?