Practice: Beyond the benefits of playing the piano, are the benefits of learning to practice. Practicing an instrument is a learned art, and it is our job to teach each student how to practice. Proper practice hones a student’s critical thinking, self-evaluation, attentive listening, goal setting, and determination. It's not like solving a math problem once and for all – you are training muscle memory, which requires consistent reinforcement and repetition.
Students enrolling in our studio must commit to practicing at least 5 days a week. There are busy seasons in which exceptions can be made, but in evaluating whether you plan to commit to lessons, please consider whether your home schedule can include adequate time for weekly practice.
Tips for Successful Practicing
1. Make it a habit. Carve out a daily time for practicing, before screen time, and when the student’s brain is fresh. Practice will easily get crowded out if it doesn’t fit into the daily routine. Most parents say that they don’t like to nag! If you both understand that piano practice is assigned at a particular time, every day, it will become an understood part of the routine. We all complain from time to time about some of our routines (like doing dishes) but we still exercise discipline and get them done! We will do our best to create engaging lesson assignments with reasonable expectations.
2. Set a timer. It helps the student know how long they are expected to work. Twenty minutes for young students, thirty minutes and up for more advanced players. We can discuss this in more detail at a lesson. You can even split that time into two sessions, if it is just too long to sit at one time!
3. Remove any distractions. Make sure the tv/radio/sibling/phone/video game/pet isn’t in the same room. There’s serious work being done in there!
4. For the parent: Be acquainted with the assignment in your child's notebook and help them stick to it. Encourage them to keep good body posture and a steady beat. Make sure that they are working on the things on their current assignment, not just playing familiar things they have already learned. It is great to review! But progress on new material is important.
Toward the end of the week, maybe the day before the next lesson, ask to hear all the things that were on the list that week. Scales and repertoire pieces should be flowing smoothly, there shouldn’t be a lot of starts and stops and hiccups and “I don’t know how to play this...” Sometimes there are bad practice weeks - but those should be the exception, not the norm.
5. Listen and affirm! Sit in the living room and listen to them perform for you. This shows them how much you value their diligent work and progress, while also helping them learn how to perform - something they will need to practice in preparation for a recital.