habit


Does your child have time for piano lessons?

Before starting piano lessons, it is important to ask if the student has mental space for piano lessons. While I, a piano teacher, can accept that most of my students will not choose to dedicate themselves to becoming a concert pianist, it is important for me to know that there is space in their lives for music lessons.

Time of Lesson

Of course, the most basic time required is the time of the lesson. A piano lesson is traditionally 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or 60 minutes once a week. To ensure productivity, parents will want to select a slot that can be consistent, and with the student’s energy level in mind. Since music lessons are only once a week, it is very important for that time to be as productive as possible.

Time to Practice

Research shows that students who practice about 140 minutes a week (roughly 20 minutes a day) are much less likely to drop out of piano lessons in three years.  While serious students will want to practice more, this recommended time allows the student to form a relationship with the piano. With every practice, their fingers get more used to location and weight of the keys. Many students struggle with this habit, and their progress continues at a slower pace.

Time to Enjoy

Lastly, there needs to be time to enjoy piano. A student should have space in their life to create their own music, and to free play on the piano. Without this essential (fun) part of music, lessons can seem dry and irrelevant. While they may progress through the curriculum, their interest can quickly wane without an outlet to be creative.

If the student’s schedule is filled to the brim with other activities already, a tough choice has to made. While I agree that music education is good for brain and personal development, the advantages can not be felt if the student does not have space in their life.

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Practice as a Habit

Good Practice is Undeniable

Throughout my time teaching, it has become abundantly clear to me that parents do not need to be reminded about the benefits of practice. Adults understand, without a doubt, that to learn a skill, one must put work into it. Whether that skill be cooking, climbing or driving, the key that ties all the lessons together is practice. How can we make children understand this? Unfortunately, they simply do not have enough life experience to understand that nothing can be achieved without putting the work into it.

It’s Up to Adults to Show the Way

How do we show kids that dental hygiene is important? When I was younger, my mom emphasized that I had to brush my teeth when I wake up, and when I go to bed. After enough times of asking me to do, it became part of my routine. 5 minutes in the morning, and 5 minutes at night have kept me cavity free for 24 years. When I forget to brush my teeth, I feel my inner voice nagging me that I have missed an important part of my day. While I don’t “enjoy” brushing my teeth, I certainly prefer it over sitting in the dentist’s chair.

This same concept applies to music practice. To encourage music practice, we adults should provide a steady routine until the kids settle into it.

Setting the Habit:

  1. Set a consistent time to practice! I practice my scales every morning, and every night (right after I brush my teeth!). Setting a consistent time allows the child to settle into the routine more effectively. There has been some research to suggest that the most effective way to set a routine is to do the hardest tasks in the morning.
  2. Make it a priority. If parents feel like it is a priority, kids will take by example and also begin to see it as priority. Simply put, parents must lead by example to show children the benefits of practice. What is the incentive for parents? Parents should aim to set a practice routine so the child makes consistent progress in their music classes, and continuously play more beautiful music!
  3. Use positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is highly effective in teaching and setting a routine. A simple positive reinforcement is giving a sticker, or a treat after practicing. Some parents may also find it effective to compliment the child on their progress and their visible improvement.

Happy Practicing!

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