As the school year begins, we understand getting back into the routine of practicing can be difficult for students of all ages. Here are some helpful tips the Imagine Music Inc. Teachers have compiled to help motivate students!
Before any practicing begins, make sure that you have the proper equipment and space for your instrument. For example, try not to play your keyboard on chairs that are not a correct height. Ask your teachers if you’re unsure whether or not your music space is set properly.
Parent support is one of the most important ways to get your child to practice. It is important that parents are just as dedicated as the child is towards lessons. This means taking an active involvement in the child’s daily practice. This can range from physically sitting with your child to supporting them and reminding them that they need to practice everyday. It is very easy for parents to tell a beginner piano student to sit on the piano and play, but they often are not sure about what to practice. If you do not sit with your child, we encourage parents to at least go over what the child needs to accomplish in their practicing that week. Parents should also be actively communicating with the teacher with regards to the child’s lesson progress and the strengths and weaknesses of the child.
Mastering and instrument is hard, both physically and mentally as students are often multitasking between playing, reading and listening. It is very easy for students to become disinterested in an instrument as soon as they realize how hard it is. Encourage your child even when it is tough and try to see what you can do to help the child feel better about their practicing. In addition, encouraging them to play for other people will also not only help your child gain confidence but also to give your child a sense of accomplishment.
The brain works best with repetition. Rather than sitting on your instrument for an hour the day before your lessons (trying to remember everything that you worked on last week), try to put aside a little bit of time everyday to your music practice.
Some teachers call this a daily “music ritual” where the student can have quiet time with themselves and their instrument. Do not have distractions in the room while they are playing (for example, leave their phones and/or other electronic devices in the kitchen). Create a music sanctuary for your child.
Everyday Practice but in Short Sittings
Most teachers will tell you that a child will need to practice every day for 10-15 minutes (depending on the level of the student). In an ideal world, this would be great, however, with all the crazy after-school activities children have now, it’s hard to practice everyday in one long sitting. Instead, you can try to get your child to sit at their instrument multiple times throughout the day focusing on a different aspect.
For example, beginner students may choose to play one song a few times in the morning, another song a few times in the afternoon and a last song a few times before bed. This is ideal for young beginners as they sometimes may not have the attention span to sit at the piano for a long period of time.
Focus on accomplishing a goal, rather than playing a song over and over again
For intermediate and advanced students, practicing should not be to simply play a piece of music from the beginning to the end multiple times, but to focus on the areas that they struggle with. The area which they struggle with may be the same spot everyday, but if they practicing efficiently, they should be able to master that area within a few days (rather than being able to “get by”).
Practicing usually increases when students are asked to play for a special function. Imagine Music Inc. understand that performance is an important part of taking music lessons. This is why we offer multiple performance opportunities throughout the year. From our beginner recitals to our big semi-annual recitals. We also offer students a chance to play at the Chateau Renoir Senior Living Centre as well as the Children’s Hospital. In addition, parents may choose to have “family and friends Recitals” where students can play weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly to the people close to them.
Practicing logs are a great way for students to see overall how hard they work within the year. Students would record the date/time spent practicing and initial the date. During the lessons, teachers and students can set a goal with regards to how much practicing they would do for the week (for example the student has to fill 4 times slots, etc).
No matter what the age, students love to be rewarded for their accomplishments. For young beginners, the reward may simply be a trip to the Dollarstore whereas for older students, they might be more interested in “apps for their devices” or allowance money. Parents should set up the reward with the child and discuss it with their teachers so that everyone is aware of how the student can receive their prize.
Here are some examples of rewards (some examples are currently being used by our students):
- 10 cents per Star/Sticker
- X-amount of stars for an “app” for their iPads
- x-amount of stars for dinner at the students’ choosing
- Student recital – at the end of the month, the student must play for the parents. If the performance is good (and the child passes the parents’ standard) they get x-amount of money, if it is bad, students gives x-amount of money back to the parents.