We all face it—that daily battle to get your child to practice. Maybe when your child first started taking piano lessons he or she was excited to sit down at the bench, but over time, motivation can wane. How can you motivate your child to practice piano even when they’re not in the mood?
Tips for Motivating Your Child to Practice Piano
Below are 7 tips to help motivate your child to practice the piano. These tips will help your child create more positive associations with practicing piano and create a longer-lasting practicing habit.
1 – Make a Routine
Any parent who has tried to incorporate a visit to their gym into their daily routine knows how hard it is to stay motivated. We need not forget that our children have these same struggles. Making practicing the piano part of your child’s routine at a set and predictable time of day help strengthen the habit and reduce resistance.
2 – Praise Often & Genuinely
One of the best ways to keep your child motivated is to praise them. Not just in a “sounds good” yelled from the kitchen sort of way, but in a genuinely involved and interested way. Sit down next to your child and listen to them play.
Making genuine comments such as “Wow, I can see you’re doing a great job holding your wrists up like your teacher said!” or “I thought it was great that you practiced that difficult section a couple extra times—I can hear that it’s really starting to improve!” will go much further in motivating your child to practice (and practice well) than no praise or non-specific praise would.
3 – Work With Your Teacher
Involve your piano teacher if your child is having trouble finding the motivation to practice the piano! Some parents are embarrassed by not being able to find a way to motivate their child to practice the piano—but it’s not uncommon. Your teacher would much rather work with you on practice strategies than have the child come unprepared or, worse, give up on lessons.
Your child’s piano teacher may try switching up the practice homework for something new, incorporate fun elements (such as tablet practice games, playing along with recorded accompaniments, etc.), or ease in more slowly on the amount of practice required each day (start with 10 minutes for a few weeks, increase it to 15 minutes, etc.).
4 – Use it as Time to Connect
For younger children, one of the best changes you can make to help motivate your child to practice piano is to use it as time to connect. Whether you play the piano yourself or not, simply being present and engaging be a great way to help your child feel motivated to practice. However (and this is a huge caveat), engaging should not mean criticizing, teaching, or correcting. Your job is to be positive and encouraging. Your child, whether they admit it or not, is always seeking your approval. Showing interest by listening and praising (genuinely) can help them feel like their hard work and practice is appreciated.
If you notice something that does need correcting (for instance, your child’s hands are in the wrong position), keep it positive. Try something like, “Wow, your rhythm is starting to sound so good on that song! Where’s middle C again? For some reason I thought maybe it sounded like your hands were in a different position…
5 – Offer a Reward
Just like adults, sometimes children need positive reinforcement to help them create a new positive habit. Having a reward at the end of practicing, such as 15-20 minutes of free play, their favorite cookie, or one-on-one time with you, can help them feel more motivated to complete their practice session. If you’re not sure which reward will most motivate your child to practice piano, give them the option of 2-3 rewards to pick from.
6 – Consider Incremental Rewards
If your child has trouble getting through a practice session, try incremental rewards. Your mindset here should be to try to help your child form the habit of completing his or her practice session. What is something your child is motivated by? Treats? Earning money? Time with you? Play time? Try setting up a reward system that rewards your child each time she finishes a segment of her practice.
In example, if practice consists of practicing each song three times, offer an incremental reward each time your child finishes practicing one or two songs. For instance, if your child is motivated by time with you, offer to read 5 pages of their favorite book together after every 2 songs. If they’re motivated by treats, offer him or her 3 Skittles every time they finish a song. If they’re motivated by play, let them play one round of their favorite tablet game between each song.
7 – Switch It Up
If your child is set against practicing piano and you haven’t found what motivates him or her, it may be time to switch it up.
- Consider switching from private lessons to group lessons (or vice versa).
- Try practicing one song at a time with a 5-10-minute break in-between each song for something they enjoy (playing their favorite video game, reading a book, playing with a marble set).
- Try practicing on a digital piano with a different instrument sound (like a trumpet or electric guitar) instead of a piano.
- Turn on background music (rhythms, accompaniments, etc.—your child’s piano teacher may have some recommendations).
- Practice in the morning instead of the evening (or vice versa).
How Can We Help?
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