For many parents, the idea of getting your child to actively want to practise piano each week can feel a little daunting, but we believe that with just a few little tweaks to the way both you and your child approach their practice can be the difference between them loving their piano practice time and them absolutely dreading it each week.
Why Engagement Matters
It may sound obvious, but engagement and exploration is crucial to a child’s success in piano playing, a child who actively loves playing and the musical process of learning is far more likely to stick with the piano for life opposed to one who does not enjoy it and will stop as soon as they gain some level of autonomy on how they spend their time.
Of course, as with almost any skill or hobby, not practising as regularly will hinder their progress and can lead to loss of momentum in their progress and lack of information retention, so finding the right level of engagement for your child’s learning is incredibly important.
The same can be said for the quality of the practice, simply saying ‘do an hours piano practice every night’ does not mean success. Instead, doing half an hour of quality practice will be far more beneficial. So instead of your child simply sitting at the piano, twiddling their thumbs, by creating fun and engaging activities to help them practise, you can maximise both their enjoyment and progress.
How To Keep Learning Fun And Engaging
Many parents often fall into the trap of only sticking to exactly what their piano teacher has told them, or only sticking to worksheets when it comes to piano practice. Whilst these materials are definitely important and not to be ignored, it is also just as important to listen to your child and understand what they are and are not enjoying about the exercise and how you can help them overcome it.
For example, if your child really struggles with repeating the same scales and arpeggios over and over again, why not turn the exercise into a game?! - We’ve actually written an article on exactly this already.
If you are unsure on what activities you can create around the practice that a teacher has asked your child to learn, speak to them about it! They will likely be more than happy to pass over any tips and tricks that they feel may help your child’s learning move forwards. If you are finding that you are hitting a bit of a brick wall with your child’s teacher, read our guide to building rapport and how to find the perfect teacher for your child.
As a few examples, we’ve included a short list of these ideas below.
Turn Learning Into A Game
There are a number of great games that parents and children can enjoy when it comes to piano, one of our personal favourites is the ‘storytime’ game. This is a fantastic one for children (and adults too!) as not only does it get them thinking creatively, but also gives them the freedom to express themselves.
Ask them to name either their favourite story or book and to write a song that tells the story. Of course this is very basic levels of composition and for some, this can be enough to create a full piece, for others who perhaps want either a bit of a challenge you can ask them to create a song on the white or black notes only, or even in a specific key like C major. Other children will simply enjoy the pleasure of having free time to experiment.
Another great memory game can be to create flash cards around the piano, these can of course be as simple or complicated as your child plays, but are a great tool in getting them engaged in piano and remembering theory without realising it. You can of course cover everything here from notation to keys to scales even to fun musical facts about specific composers or artists your child may like. You can create your own flashcards, or for those getting started, try these.
Get Them To Teach You!
Really want to either spend more time with your child and encourage their learning at the same time?
Why not get them to give you some basic piano lessons and exercises, especially if you are a non-musical parent, showing an interest in their learning is one of the best ways to show them how proud you are and of course also allow them to show off a little, all of this will help reinforce the message that they have this incredibly difficult skill mastered.
Even if you have no real desire to learn the piano yourself, getting them to teach you some basics will help enhance their own musical enjoyment as it gives a fun shift in their learning whereby instead of being told how to do something, they can show you. Who knows, you might even discover that you want to learn piano yourself afterwards!
Shake Up Their Practice Routine
We have a number of guides to this, from trying to keep a piano diary to changing your practice structure, but this would also extend into all kinds of other avenues of playing, for example if they mostly only play classical piano, why not try introducing some jazz into their playing?
Perhaps the easiest way to do this is simply to ask your child what THEY want to learn. Depending on what kind teacher your child has, many are often prescribed a repertoire of classical pieces, but their real passion is film or jazz piano. Use this time to help them explore, or even find a teacher who specialises in these areas!
Join A Community Group Or Go To A Concert!
There are a number of piano communities up and down the country that are not only fantastic ways for adults to meet like minded players, but also a fantastic place for children to be able to showcase their skills, meet other players and come away more inspired than they were to begin with. Our friends at Let’s Play The Piano are a great place to begin and run sessions up and down the country.
Likewise, one of the best ways to inspire any pianist is to attend an event of sensational playing and give the child the aspiration that this is what they could achieve one day with a little practice! There are a plethora of ways to find local piano concertos near you, for example in Cambridge, we have the Cambridge Concert Calendar.
Time To Upgrade?
Whilst definitely not one for everyone, one of the reasons that a child may be losing interest in their piano is because they have either outgrown the capabilities of their instrument or are simply not inspired by it anymore. Explore our guide to seeing some of the signs your child may have outgrown their piano and how you can begin the upgrading process.
The same can be said for keeping your instrument in tune, if your child is perhaps playing on an acoustic piano that hasn't been tuned in a while, then getting the instrument tuned is a great way to remind them of how amazing it can sound! Book a piano tuning here.
We hope this short guide helps offer some inspiration to keeping your young ones engaged in their piano practice! Explore our blog for more guidance, or read our parents guide to pianos here. For more information around upgrading your instrument, or finding the perfect piano for your home, contact our experts for more advice today!