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6 Ways to Get Your Child to Want to Practice Piano

Get your child to want to practice? Does any child routinely want to do that? Beyond the honeymoon period, of course, when the instrument is new and full of exciting possibilities to discover?

How can we, as parents and teachers alike, help keep the musical experience fresh and fulfilling for our children? How do we motivate them to keep coming back for more, day after day after month after year?

Teachers do have a responsibility in this -- selecting appropriate and inspiring repertoire; modeling proficiency at the instrument; projecting enthusiasm for music, among many other important considerations.

Parents, you too play a significant role in inspiring your child to love learning music. And you don't need to be a musician yourself for that to happen!

Here, then, are 6 ways to help your child want to head to the piano every day. (Many of these tips apply to the study of other instruments, too.)

1. Make your home a musically-rich environment. Play high-quality recordings every day. Children internalize a lot about musical structures like form, rhythm, melody through informal listening. Music is a language, and listening is the first step to learning the language. Students who understand how music is constructed are more eager to apply their knowledge.

2. Encourage exploration at the keyboard. Not all practicing needs to be that which is written on the assignment page. In fact, owning a piano before one begins lessons is an excellent way for a player of any age to acquaint oneself with the feel of playing before there is any concern with reading notes on a page. Creativity and discovery are fun!

3. Keep competing sounds from distracting the pianist. Turn off the TV, radio, and YouTube channel. Train younger children to avoid boisterous activity when someone is at the piano. The pianist deserves a chaos-free environment for practicing.

4. Place your piano in a central location in your home. No piano student wants to feel as if s/he's being sent to a remote place in the house to practice behind closed doors. Music is meant to be shared; always and only playing in isolation can take the joy out of the process. Students thrive when they receive the message, stated or implied, that their music-making is an important addition to the atmosphere of the home.

5. Plan a regular time for practice to occur. Ideally, that would be the same time every day, so the routine becomes second nature. If that is not possible, pencil in a time for each day, say 4:00 Monday, 6:30 Tuesday, and so on, based on your family's activity schedule. Forward momentum is achieved through regular daily practice, bringing much more likelihood for success. And there is no motivator like success!

6. Finally, give yourself and your child the gift of a quality instrument. A piano which sounds bad, or has sticky or broken keys; a keyboard with too few keys to play the full range of a favorite piece; an instrument that isn't touch-responsive (in other words, its volume is controlled by a switch rather than the student's touch) -- all of these factors can hamper a child's motivation to play, and often lead to frustration. A full-size instrument that is lovely to play inspires.

What effective strategies have you implemented to encourage music practice with delight?

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