Encouraging practice

A few words on encouraging children and young people to practice. One of the most basic ingredients here, I believe, is for the student to be enjoying their lessons. It helps to get along with the teacher (though this can have various meanings), and of course to be enjoying the music itself. Whatever the reason for starting, I like to encourage them to feel like it’s their own thing.

An important principle for me is “quality over quantity”. I aim first to encourage them to do some bit of practice every day, however small, and whatever the content once they do it in the first place, then build from there.

I try to help them establish a habit. For many students, this involves taking on a “30-day practice challenge”. For beginners the aim with this is to just do ‘something’ at the piano every day, however small, just to help build a habit of it and incorporate it into their daily life. A lot of students benefit from having a calendar chart to tick off the days they have practised, at least during this stage. Older students will also sometimes use this to keep tabs on how much practice they have been doing every day.

If the student is using a digital piano (with weighted keys) make sure it is on an appropriate stand. If possible, practice should happen somewhere away from distractions, but not too cut off. Music at the ready so there is little effort to set things up for a practice session.

An important thing to understand is that few people will always want to practice, everyone has both good days and bad days.

I have an honest belief that sincere praise and encouragement can go a long way here too. Ideally, practice won’t be used as punishment – Most children will need to be encouraged to practice anyway so it’s important not to have anything else to hold against it.

Anyway, those are my two cents. Feel free to comment.