How to Help Your Child to Love Practicing the Piano


Clang. Bong. Clank. It’s the dreaded discordant chord that all parents of future musical virtuosos know and dread. And, of course, it happens when you don’t have the energy, patience, or time to inspire, motivate or encourage.

I mean, you’ve been here before. Can’t your little darling just dive in and practice? Why all the resistance and lack of interest in a dream so beautiful for her?

Here’s the thing — piano practice sometimes is a battle. You prefer for your son or daughter to settle in and just do it, right? Practice shouldn’t be  difficult, but it does need to happen — on a daily basis. It prepares the student for a lifetime of beauty, fun, and fulfillment of dreams.

Let’s break down exactly how to …

Inspire

Motivate

Encourage

… your piano virtuoso with short, effective and relatively painless tricks and tips. Therefore, if you’re ever having trouble making them stick come back here and download the Music Roadmap. Have it handy and lift yourself and your musician on a higher note.

INSPIRE TO ASPIRE

The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary defines inspire as “to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration”.

A tall order. But easier to do than you may think. As you’ll see in a moment.

Inspiration comes from being surrounded with kindred spirits.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

That is to say attending music concerts, listening to classical music, dancing your day away in joyous abandon with like-minded souls.

Well, maybe that’s not the most practical for busy moms and dads.

But I guess that is why inspiration is more of a divine nature — you must “breathe into” him or her to inspire (another definition of Inspire – “breath into”).

And never mind that your young musician may have a different taste for “inspirational”.

Robert Ward, an English teacher in public middle schools in Los Angeles has written about the four major core needs  all children have.

Here’s the quick description:

Your young musician may have a different taste for what is considered inspirational, but your leadership, love, and inspiration will produce great benefits.

  • Leadership supplies the appropriate guidelines and guidance children require in order to feel a soothing sense of security, structure, and stability.
  • Love offers the attention, encouragement, and acceptance that create a strong bond of trust and open communication between adult and child.
  • Laughter adds the joy, excitement, and adventure that embolden and assist a child’s personal exploration of meaning, purpose, and self-expression.
  • Learning develops and reinforces children’s knowledge, wisdom, and skills vital for a contributing, self-sufficient life.

Breath into your child aspirations of greatness from applying the following four principles:

  • Lead with commitment to their musical training. This breathes commitment into them as they learn what practicing daily is all about — even on those days they don’t feel like it.
  • Love them with attention to their music practice and develop that bond of trust that you won’t berate them for mistakes. Help with patient action steps for improvements. Consult the piano teacher for ideas.
  • Laugh with them about music, jokes, and family life. “A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing”. Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Learn with them. If you know how to play the piano, play for them and with them often. If you don’t know how to play the piano, sit and listen. Ask questions on what you don’t understand. Learning is never easier and more fun when you (and your child) are teaching others.

Applying these four principles to inspire for your daily practice  with your musical virtuoso makes it easier for inspiration to grow. Dreams of aspiration do come true. As your child grows and matures, he or she will always remember these cherished moments with you.

But how do you keep up the motivation. Read on …

MOTIVATE FOR ENTHUSIASM

You have heard of great coaches in sports. These are coaches that take a lagging team and turn them around to become a winning team. Some are fiery motivators while others are calm tacticians. Success is determined at how well the players have bought into their methods.

One such method is using the power of words. A beaten down, low-esteem sports team can have their pity-party shattered and clawing back to win the game with a few well-chosen words from their coach.

Words have become the main motivational tool in the 21st Century.

Just listen to Ted Talks.

But are words enough to motivate your child to practice the piano faithfully and dream of successful concert performances?

Not likely. In fact, one of my parents’ biggest complaints is that the child does not listen to them. How then can you motivate your child for enthusiasm towards playing the piano on a regular basis?

Create a roadmap your child can easily visualize.

I’ll explain how to create your roadmap in a minute, but it’s important to first understand some things about action-steps.

Knowing what the next step to do to achieve your goal is a bounce-out-of-bed-enthusiasm-generator.

Many people just don’t know what the next step should be if they don’t have a roadmap. Some kids seem to have been born with a goal oriented personality. But most aren’t so focused. And they often grow up into adults that aren’t very goal oriented either. Just ask any anyone.

They’ll likely be part of the 92% of people who do not achieve their New Year’s goals, as research showed in a university study.

But 8% do.

How do they do it?

This Brainy Quote illustrates the importance of piano practice.

It’s all about action-steps until it becomes a habit.

But a roadmap doesn’t just show you the way to move forward. If you turn around and look backwards, it also shows you where you fell off-track.

When your musical child slips up and doesn’t practice, pulling out a written down, or pictorial roadmap of the year will give him an overview of what his responsibility is to achieve milestones and gain acclamations for family entertainment and annual concerts.

He will be able to see the exact point on the map when he stopped practicing and his playing began to suffer.

A simple layout is all that is needed. Lessons, daily practice, family events when he may entertain with a favourite song, and the annual concert where he can choose whom to invite to impress.

This can help make him feel invested and excited to do a good job. Yes, there may be a few stumbling blocks along the way, but he’ll see where he stumbled and be able to get back on-track with the knowledge of what to watch out for next time.

As you and your child start brainstorming over the roadmap layout, remember to focus on the benefits he receives. I’m not talking about the scientific community that says music will help develop higher intellect, bring on better behaviour, and so on — true as that is.

This is about your child seeing the benefits for himself. Let him start to feel the anticipation of feeling good. Get ready with the star stickers and bigger bonuses for bigger accomplishments. Watch for and give him recognition when you see that sparkle in his eye. It tells you that he is feeling wonderful for …

  • accomplishing the goal of playing a piece well
  • making his parents feel good
  • pushing through shyness for playing for family or other audience
  • getting stars and prizes from his piano teacher
  • once not able to play the piano, but now he does
  • prepared for … lessons, concerts, parties!

As you lay out your action steps for the roadmap – with your child – keep these things in mind. Brainstorm with him for ideas. It’s almost as good as a contract.

The 8% of successful New Year goal achievers are successful because of what they do. Not because they’re born goal-oriented. What you do or not do is what shows up in results.

ENCOURAGE FOR PROGRESS

One thing to mark down on your road map is a section for days of discouragement. Guaranteed that day will loom up, ready or not. That’s when you use tricks and creativity to get over the hump.

Days of discouragement are unplanned days. So, roadmaps don’t usually show these days ahead of time. Usually, they’re discovered by hindsight. And by then, it may be too late.

Your musical virtuosa has morphed into a sports player instead of a piano player. Or maybe the sound of music that once filled your home now fills it with shouts of victory above the clicks of a video game console.

These may be good events happening, but not if you don’t want your child to lose interest in loving to play the piano.

You want to be sensitive to when your child really needs a break. But stopping piano lessons is usually not the answer. There is a high risk that he or she will not want to come back to it later.

Instead, determine what type of break is needed. Do you need to change teachers? Sometimes, a personality conflict might be the problem. Is practicing the piano boring because your child is tired of scales or other technical aspects.

That’s what happened to me. I started piano lessons at age seven. I wanted to quit at the age of 12. A very common age for kids to want to quit. But my mother said, “It’s all part of your education. You can’t quit until you’re older”.

Then she consulted with my piano teacher and advised her to not give me any technical or heavy pieces for the next year. Only fun pieces.

It was just what I needed. I went on to get my music degree from York University in Toronto and today I love my career as a full-time music teacher.

So be prepared to inspire, motivate and encourage and you will achieve the goal of having a musical virtuoso in your family.

My mother always said that her kids were her musical instruments. It does take parental involvement to raise up a musical virtuoso.

If you’d like to discuss music lessons for you or your child contact me at Ris@rumblemusic.ca or phone 416-788-2005.

P.S. Did you know that adults can get voice or piano lessons by Skype? Contact me on how this can work for you.

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