As a piano teacher, I am constantly thinking of ways to push my students’ progress forward, while thinking of ways to keep it fun and creative. This can be sometimes be polarizing; how can I keep it fun, when it requires exercises and drills to develop those strong agile fingers of a pianist?
My mentors taught me to practice often, with as much heart as possible. Simply put: practice does indeed make perfect. When we practice consistently, we build a relationship with the piano with our fingers. We start to memorize the hand shapes for different chords. We begin to free ourselves of the technical restrictions between the fingers and the piano, and finally create the music inside us with no inhibitions.
However, asking children to do their scales everyday isn’t very effective. They don’t see the long term goal of building strong technique. They want to make music right then and there. They have ideas and want to express them. Trying to force them through technical drills…definitely not perceived as fun.
But without the proper technique, they simply can’t execute their ideas. Low endurance and agility will limit creativity.
Even with prize incentives, positive encouragements, and support from the parents, (most) kids simply do not want to do their scales.
Discipline, however difficult, should be considered for its values. It teaches children the importance of focus and perseverance. Piano lessons reinforce the value of beginning and completing projects, despite hardship. It teaches children to think of long term value, and experience delayed gratification.
Furthermore, piano is kind of like riding a bike. Just like a bike, you won’t forget how to ride once you know the technique of how. Piano is just a longer process; this process can be sped up by consistent, mindful practicing.
The choice to practice or not is always up to the musician. We are told to practice. Almost everyone understands that practice makes us better musicians. Discipline is not always beautiful, but it is the force that helps us choose “Yes, I can”, instead of “No, I don’t want to.”