First thing first. Before I tell you how to encourage your children to practice, I need to clarify one thing:
You Understand And Believe That Your Children Need To Practice In Order To Learn, Improve Their Playing, and Enjoy Music.
Now, here are some points I gather from various sources and find them useful to be shared with you here:
1. Never Force Your Children To Practice.
I agree on this first point. Instead, negotiate and make a deal with your children. Negotiate with them what rewards they will get after their practice, e.g. having a cookie, watching TV for 30 minutes, or even a rest. It does not have to be a big award, in fact, a small one is good enough. But whenever you promise them something, you have to give that to them. I remember my Father promised my elder brother that he would take us all for a trip if my brother got distinction on his grade 7 piano exam. So my brother did but we never went on that promised trip. We still remember it until today.
For me, I gave young students stickers for award when they played well. Nowadays the children can have anything so stickers seem not so attractive to them now. Recently, I have tried this with a new transferred student: I would give her a star for every task she has accomplished; sometimes there would be one star per week, other times two. So when she has 20 stars, she can get the gift that we have negotiated beforehand and I have promised to give her. It was a simple no-frill mechanical pencil. And she was quite happy with her achievement.
But that was one-off deal, because I cannot always give her gift (otherwise I will become a poor teacher!), and we should not use gifts to attract students to play better. Eventually, we want the children to have the initiative to work harder because they simply want to play better, that improvement on their playing is the sole goal of their practice but not the gift.
Read more at: How to Encourage Your Child to Practice Piano
2. Make Sure Your Children Have Time To Practice.
“Often children are so busy with homework, soccer, Scouts, swim team, tennis and the like that they truly don’t have time to squeeze in piano practice. Evaluate your child’s schedule and make sure they have the time to give to daily practice.”
Very true. I find sometimes it is not the students that they do not want to come to lesson or practice, but they have too many activities outside school already they barely have time to rest. Children also need rest and play other than school and other extra-curricular activities. I know every kid learns so many things nowadays especially in Hong Kong and I understand why parents do so. But let me say it is not healthy. And although it is done out of the benefit for your children, they eventually cannot excel in everything they do and have to cut down on the activities they are involved in so that they can actually have time to learn some of the activities, enjoy them and be good at one or two.
3. Don’t Focus On Time.
Like I said before, young children cannot sit still and focus for too long. Especially at the beginning phase of their practice, I would tell their parents to break down the practice into two 15-minute sessions. Focus is more important than time. It is much better that they can pay attention at their practice in a short 15 minutes than they drag along, feeling dull and bored with their playing for a long 30 minutes.
Read more at: How to Help Your Child Learn to Like Piano Practice
4. Add More Time Practicing.
“Children can build up their focus and ability to sit at the piano and practice. Once your child has gotten comfortable with a certain amount of time, then add a few minutes more. Keep building on that. They’ll get there!!”
Read more at: How to Encourage Your Child to Practice The Piano Joyfully
5. Make A Video Gift.
“Let your child(ren) know you are going to record them playing some of their favorite pieces and mail the video to grandparents or other relatives.”
This has been proved to be quite useful by some of my students’ parents. Because I always videotape my students’ playing from time to time, my students are used to it and find it interesting enough to even ask their parents to record their playing at home and show it to their family and friends! They absolutely love it. And in order to show their best playing, they would work hard to practice for the videos. So it is a win-win situation.
Read more at: How to Add Variety to Your Child’s Piano Practices
6. Make Practice Times Part of Your Children’s Daily Routine.
I think it is important to schedule a regular practice time for your children at the same time every day if possible. For example, it can be the first 30 minutes after school, right after the children have some snacks. It can be right after homework. It can be right after dinner, before/after the children the favorite TV show. Any time that works for your children.
For younger children or beginners of a few months’ lessons, you can break down a regular 30-minute practice session into two 15-minute sessions to start with. Make it a routine so that your children are used to their practice schedule. When they are more used to this routine and become more settled, you can then extend their practice sessions into two 20 minutes and eventually back to one 30 minutes when necessary.
Read more at: How to Motivate Your Child to Practice Piano
7. Set A Clear Goal For Each Practice Session.
Knowing what to practice during every practice is very important. Even if you really don’t know much about music, you can still set a clear goal for your children’s practice. You can make a practice table for your children. For instance, there are four phrases in one song, and you want your children to practice one phrase every day, ten times every phrase. Set a number of practice. It can be five times left hand, five times right hand, then ten times the whole phrase hands together. Each time your children finish playing, mark it on the practice table. There can be criteria to comply with, e.g. the first three times is note accuracy, the next three times rhythm precision, and the next tempo steadiness, etc etc. With the magic number, both you and your children can see how far you two achieve together.
Remember, do not give up easily when you find it difficult to get your children on that piano bench. There can be good times and bad times and you are just so happened to be stuck in the latter. But eventually when you stay there long enough, good times will definitely come.