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Supporting Your Child In Their Piano Lessons

I would not be where I am today if not for my parent's support, with time, encouragement and finance. Whether or not your child makes a career of music, your efforts in bringing the world of music to your child will make their life fuller and happier. You can help your child learn faster and enjoy lessons more by doing a few things:

1. Remind Your Child To Practice and Give Incentives For Practice

Although it takes time and patience, children often find it very helpful if their parent can play a little bit, especially if the child is a beginner. Talk to the teacher and ask how involved you should be in the lessons and outside the lessons. Young children (also older ones)  need to be reminded to practice on a daily basis. A few kids are very motivated and can practice on their own without being told, but the majority need someone to push them along in the right direction.  I would love it if all children had the natural inclination towards regular, focused practice.  However, even I (being quite disciplined now), was reminded quite a lot by my parents, who always asked "Have you done your practice yet?".  Soon it was so annoying to hear them tell me, I learned to do it myself.

2. Give Positive Attention To Your Child's Accomplishments

It's always nice to have your efforts praised and rewarded. If your child does well in an exam, celebrate the results together (maybe go out for lunch or dinner), or buy a new music book of their choice. Even something small like telling them that you enjoyed hearing them practice that day, could fuel further practice down the track. Pay attention to what the teacher says in the lesson, and if you find them working on the teacher's suggestions, give them some encouragement. You could say, "You're doing well with that difficult passage", or "That's getting better, good work!"

3. Don't Put Down Your Child (Especially In Front of Friends or Their Teacher)

As a teacher, I feel very uncomfortable when a parent who is watching the child having their lesson call out answers to questions I ask the child, or tell the child in front of me that their performance was terrible (however true it may have been). If you have any concerns about your child's playing or attitude at home, it's best to speak to the teacher privately rather than give negative criticism. Students can become disheartened about learning to play the piano if they think that their efforts aren't being recognized.

 4. Make Music a Priority

I am occasionally surprised that parents are willing to pay hundreds of dollars per term for their child to learn the piano, yet not make sure that their child is practicing at home. Often it's not that the parent doesn't care - it's because life is so busy, and there are so many other activities going on that piano practice  has been cast aside. Sometimes, the student has been forced by the parent to learn! 

In those cases, in the piano lesson, the student plays in such a way that is disappointing to the teacher, who expects the homework given last week to have been done.  Most students have great parents who will even sit with their children while they practice, or will help them with the theory homework. If you are too busy to keep up with your child's piano education, let the teacher know, and you may be able to work something out (maybe put off lessons until there is sufficient time to continue, reduce lesson time or a have a change of curriculum).

5. Take Your Child To Concerts 

I love it when I hear of parents taking their children to see live music performances. Concerts are such a positive experience for a child and they can enjoy music without worrying about having to play anything. If your child is learning Classical music, take them to see a professional pianist play or a symphony orchestra. If your child if more interested in learning Contemporary music take  them to Jazz concerts.  Maybe help them get involved in starting a band where they could play the keyboard if they are interested, or encourage them to be part of their school's instrumental group or choir.