How Parents Can Help With Practice
Parents do not have to be able to play the piano or understand music to help with practice, you can:
- Establish and help students stick to a consistent 5 or 6 day/week practice schedule: a day off can be helpful, but try to avoid it being the day after a lesson.
- No matter how busy things get, do not allow for two consecutive days of missed practice to occur.
- Simply guide the student through their assignment making sure they stay on task.
- Ask a student to explain the assignment or practice directions to you.
- Ask a student to demonstrate or teach you what they may be learning or working on at the moment.
- Provide the same quiet and positive environment for practice that exists during the lesson.
- Try to make sure the practice environment is free from distractions such as: television, tablets/cell phones, computers, eating/drinking, friends or siblings, pets, and answering the door/phone.
- It is most important that a student complete their entire assignment and correctly follow practice directions more than it is that they spend a certain amount of time at the piano. Practice sessions may need to be as long as the lesson time, more, or less, depending on what needs to be done on a day-to-day basis.
- Make sure all theory assignments are completed.
- Encourage experimentation or improvisation as a regular part of practice, providing the assignment is still completed during the session.
- Once a week, ask the student to play for you something they are working on. Make positive comments, try to be specific with things you liked or found interesting, and ask if there are things they feel still need polishing which you may not have noticed.
- Encourage and provide opportunities for students to learn more about the piano, various styles of music, and composers/performers.
- Attend performances of varying styles where the piano may be featured prominently or as part of an ensemble.
- Make music a regular part of the household environment; it may be a recording of a piece a currently being studied, other music of a composer a student is studying, favorite contemporary musicians, and/or contrasting genres and international/historical styles.
- Most importantly, take a serious interest in the student's work, encourage, recognize, and praise their commitment, be supportive and attentive, and share their excitement of learning to make music at the piano.