In an ideal world kids jump happily out of bed in the morning and after getting back from an inspiring day at school they do their homework and house chores without having to be reminded or urged on. When they start piano lessons they naturally embrace piano practice and spend long sessions enjoying music.
Some days do look like this, which is wonderful and appreciated by everyone involved. But there are other days when nothing seems to come naturally and easily. On the difficult days everything is a struggle: homework, helping around the house, etc. These are the days when piano practice could become an additional source of conflict in the family.
The strict or the soft approach?
As a piano- parent you are often faced with the dilemma of how best to approach your kid. You want to be encouraging and supportive but sometimes you see this isn't enough to get your kid to actually sit down and practice. Would it be better to be strict and threaten with punishments if the practice isn't done? Perhaps bribing the kids with some kind of reward would do the job?
Growing up these days is very different to what it used to be in the not so distant past. Kids today are encouraged to be independent individuals. They are often asked what they would like, what they prefer and how they feel. Add to this the digital screens of all sizes which provide instant entertainment and it is easy to understand why keeping up a discipline such as practicing piano does not come easily to many kids. They would love to be able to play the piano but are challenged by the concept of daily practice.
Team up with your kid for piano practice
Many parents find that being strict puts them in a difficult place that might not be compatible with western culture as it is today. These parents may prefer to generally team up with their kids as opposed to speaking down to them. Kids often appreciate it when their parents sit next to them while they do their practice. Not as home teachers or policemen but rather as quiet backstage supporters. Even just sitting next to the piano while your kid is practicing and reading a book can send a clear message of support.
The best reward systems are the simple ones. Not counting points for big prizes sometime in the future but rather saying that after the practice you will play a game, bake or do some other activity together. It won't be necessary to do this every day but it may be helpful during the difficult periods.
Build piano practice into the daily routine
Having a clear daily routine saves energy for people of all ages and especially for children. A clear time schedule adds to their confidence and frees them from having to make decisions such as whether they would like to practice or not. If the piano practice is generally done at the same time of day- after a meal, after the evening teeth brushing etc, there are more chances that it will happen without arguments.
Learning piano is character building
One of the benefits of learning to play an instrument is the opportunity it gives to build up will power and create self discipline. Thinking of the piano practice as a long term process can help you find the right way to support your child on their musical path.
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