10 Ways to Help Your Child Practice

This is a letter to all the parents and grandparents and guardians and babysitters and older siblings and neighbors and friends who support young musicians: those who encourage the pursuit of music, tote children and books and accessories back and forth to lessons each week, and help with practicing at home.

Dear parents + guardians:

Thank you for supporting your child’s musical development.

You play a crucial role in your child’s success in learning to play an instrument. Even if you don’t play the piano yourself, your support and guidance at home during the week is extremely important to their music-learning process. 

Encourage and support practicing at home by making time in your child’s schedule, creating a quiet practicing space in your home, eliminating distractions, and taking a few minutes to sit down with your child to review their weekly assignment. (Here are six helpful practice steps to use as a guide.)

Your support and encouragement throughout the week have a significant effect on your child’s musical development and growth and the development of successful practicing habits that will serve them far into the future. 

Here are a few things you can do to help your child practice at home:

10 Ways to Help Your Child Practice

1. Ask your child to tell you one thing they learned after each lesson.

This can be in the car on the way home, at dinner that night, or the next day when they sit down to practice. This is a great way to stay connected to the process and celebrate what they’re learning.

2. During the first practice session following the lesson, spend a few minutes helping your child review each piece on their assignment sheet.

This will help reinforce everything we worked on in the lesson. The best time of the week to practice? Right after their lesson. (I tell my students this practice session counts as a double!).

3. Encourage regular practicing throughout the week. 

Build at least 15-20 minutes into your child’s schedule at least 4-5 days per week, even for beginning students. In fact, creating a practicing routine from the very beginning will really set your child up for success. Practicing is a habit just like brushing your teeth!

4. Ask your child to play one or more of their pieces during the course of the week to show you their progress.

Children love playing their favorite pieces and I’ve found they also love hearing which one is your favorite!

5. Record your child performing their favorite piece. 

Use your phone to capture a quick video or record an audio clip. Then, watch/listen to the performance together (and maybe share it with a long-distance relative!).

6. Ask your child to teach you one of their pieces!

This is a fun way to mix up their practicing. You’ll be able to see what they know and understand about the music in the way they teach, demonstrate, and explain it to you. Plus, children love a chance to be the teacher!

7. Encourage your child to improvise/make up their own pieces. 

Give them ideas for song material (pets, thunderstorm, clock ticking, birds singing, etc.) or challenge them to create a piece based on a familiar text (nursery rhyme or other children’s poem).

8. If your child is willing and eager, create opportunities for them to perform for others. 

This is a great activity to do leading up to a recital. Gather friends and family (and/or stuffed animals!) for an informal recital in your home.

9. Create a repertoire box. 

As your child learns and completes new pieces, write down the titles on slips of paper and add them to the box (a tissue box works well). Once a week or at the end of each practice session, let your child choose a familiar piece from the box to review/play.

10. Do a rhythm or movement activity outside of your child’s scheduled practice time. 

These activities can take place away from the keyboard and will help reinforce and further develop the skills learned in lessons.

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