Whether you’ve just enrolled your child in piano lessons for the first time or they’ve been taking lessons for the past few years, knowing how to get the most out of that investment is key. The moment you enroll your child in piano classes, you become part of a piano-learning team that includes your child, his or her teacher, and you. If the team works well together, your child will learn a skill they’ll enjoy for the rest of their lives. From asking a lot of questions to staying on track with practicing, here are a few ways you can maximize the time your child spends playing the piano both in and out of the classroom.
What Does Your Teacher Need From You?
If you don’t know what your child’s piano teacher expects from you and your child, you’re already off to a rocky start. Piano teachers usually have guidelines that explain how involved you should be in your child’s learning. Whether they prefer for parents to sit in lessons once a month or monitor their child’s practicing time at home, making sure you’re following through on promises you’ve made to your child’s teacher is crucial to their success. One thing that will be universally true, regardless of who your child’s teacher is, is that if your child doesn’t practice at all they will NOT improve. Think of your child’s teacher as the coach of a team–if you can’t do what they ask, let them know right away or think about finding a different teacher. Your involvement and cooperation are important!
Does Your Child Have a Proper Instrument?
Even if your child has never touched the piano before, you’ll need to invest in a proper instrument. While electric keyboards are suitable alternatives, make sure to purchase one with weighted keys- and one that has all 88 of them! You don’t need to invest in a very expensive piano that will require frequent tuning, but an electric keyboard with weighted keys is the minimum requirement for most piano teachers. These are very good at simulating the sound and feel of a real piano, and switching between a piano and this type of electric keyboard will be easier on your child. Of course, an acoustic piano is a great choice, but remember that it will need tuning from time to time. Most piano manufacturers recommend that pianos be tuned once or twice a year by a professional.
Are You Asking Questions?
As a parent, it’s perfectly natural to have tons of questions for your child’s new piano teacher. From understanding their teaching methods to having a grasp on their rates, your child’s music teacher should make themselves available to answer every single one of your questions. If they seem distant or unaccommodating, you may want to start the search over and find a new teacher. Your child’s piano teacher is your personal resource for all things piano. If you find yourself Googling questions about the piano or music theory in general, why not just ask the real-life person that’s standing in front of you? Keep a journal of questions that pop up during the week, as these questions can be crucial for your child’s development. Encourage your child to do the same!
Does Your Child Have a Place to Practice?
Finding a piano teacher and purchasing the proper piano are only half the battle–providing a good environment for your child to practice in and motivating them to practice is a whole other beast. Make sure not only to have a properly sized bench, but a quiet room with good lighting and freedom from distractions. Don’t place your child’s keyboard near the playroom and expect your child to quietly practice while their siblings wreak havoc in the next room. Even if your child is super disciplined they’ll find it hard to practice in such a situation. Make sure other family members know and respect how important your child’s practice time is, too. If everyone in the household is on board with maintaining a quiet practice environment, your child will be more excited to spend time practicing.
Does Your Child Know How Important Music Is?
If you feel that piano lessons are important enough to pay for, communicate that to your child with your words and actions. Your children learn a lot from the things you say and do, and they’ll adopt your opinions on the importance of music when you lead the way. Take your child to live concerts, watch televised performances on TV, and sing along to songs on the radio. Show that you enjoy listening to your child play, and don’t forget to offer words of encouragement. If you notice your child is improving, make sure to tell them! Whether you partake in music activities as a family or during one-on-one outings, it’s important that your child understands how important music is to your family and to society as a whole.
Don’t Let Your Child Give Up!
As a parent, there’s a fine line between encouraging your child to keep playing the piano and forcing them to do so. If your child finds regular practice a chore, do everything you possibly can to make them see things differently. Take them to your local high school football team’s after-school practice, and make sure they understand that all athletes, musicians, and artists didn’t get to where they are today without a whole lot of practicing. If your child seems really unhappy, try to find the cause. Are they having issues with their teacher? Are they in group lessons but want more one-on-one time with their piano teacher? Ultimately, it’s up to you and your child to decide when to throw in the towel. Just don’t let them make the mistake of giving up too quickly.
Want more tips? Check out How to Get Your Child Excited to Play an Instrument.