What Is Next After Choosing a Musical Instrument and Finding the Right Teacher?

The biggest challenge in handling children’s music lessons is getting them to practice. As a harp and piano teacher, I have never experienced a parent who said their child always wanted to practice – every day. No matter how excited or talented the child is, there will be times when they resist practicing.

Five New Ways To Encourage Practicing

1. Try having goals instead of a set time. To learn a difficult few measures or a short piece, set 3 tokens (beads, pennies, etc.) on the left side of the music stand. When you play it right, you move one token to the right side of the music stand. If you play it a second time with a mistake, you move the token back to the left side. When you’ve played it three times correctly the tokens get to stay on the right side.

2. Call it playing the piano (or harp or violin) time instead of practice time. It’s a lot more fun to play than it is to practice.

3. Expose your child to great music, performed by artists playing on the same instrument as they are learning.  When they have favorite pieces, let them listen to those pieces as often as they want. Remind them that the great artists practiced (played) many hours to achieve that level of musicianship, and that the artists once were beginners, too.

4. Encourage opportunities to perform often for friends, family, school, informal recitals, wherever someone else wants to listen. This gives the student confidence and a reason to learn new pieces.

5. Have a set routine for each day: first exercises or scales, next reviewing old pieces, next learning a part of new pieces. Try to have approximately the same time of day for “play the piano (or harp) day.”