Learning an instrument is unique in that much of the practice takes places in between lessons. But, some parents wonder how to go about creating a piano practice routine and still get everything done.
Why You Need a Routine
As a parent, it can feel overwhelming trying to keep your family organized. Appointments, homework, extra-curricular activities and the list goes on.
You and your child are excited about the start of piano lessons. But, then you find out that practice is expected in between lessons.
In sports and dance it is common for a child to go to class multiple times a week (especially as the child moves up in level) where teaching and practice are all rolled into one.
However, this is not typically the case when your child is learning an instrument. Lessons are 30 – 60 minutes long once a week with the teacher.
One of the first things that must happen when starting piano lessons is creating a piano practice routine. This is the only way consistent, marked progress will be made.
The Easy Way or the Hard Way
I’ve learnt the hard way with my own children that not making the time to set up a routine takes the joy out of many activities. Why?
It is a normal part of a child’s development to question everything and is not a sign that an activity needs to be discontinued.
Of course my children would rather play video games than spend time reading a novel. Even though this is an activity that they enjoy and could spend hours doing once they start.
The easy way tends to be easy in the moment. Not in the long run.
When you choose not to set up a regular practice routine with your child, you are teaching your child to ask “Why?” every time they are expected to go to the piano to practice.
And, that is no fun for anyone.
But when you set up a regular practice routine, I promise it is worth it in the long run.
5 Steps to a Piano Practice Routine
We need balance. Especially with the sheer number of activities that clamor for attention.
Below is an exercise I did with all my students when I was an academic strategist at a college. It is also an activity that I do with my pre-teen and teen piano students when the week starts becoming overwhelming.
- Write out a basic weekly schedule.
- If your family schedule changes drastically from week to week, be sure to do this activity weekly as a family meeting.
- Look at the spaces in between school, work, extra-curricular activities, appointments, etc.
- Write in time for your child to wind down after school and before bed.
- Write in when your child will practice piano. Divide this time into 2 daily sessions if there are days when practice time is very short.
- Make use of time in the car to practice rhythms or listening to versions of pieces your child is learning. Yes! This counts as practice as well.
- Give your child a 5-10 minute heads up before piano practice.
- This lets your child finish what they are doing and prepare to switch their focus.
The easiest way to find these pockets of time is to link it to something your child already is doing. For example, right before brushing teeth or after having an after-school snack.
Creating a piano practice routine is all about making a new habit.
At first, your child will probably ask quite a few questions about why it is piano practice time.
Remember this is completely normal.
Just keep directing your child back to the routine and giving a “heads up” that piano practice time is coming up.
One of my “secret” strategies is to set the stopwatch on my cell. Letting my children know they have 5 minutes before we are moving onto something else has worked wonders. Especially when I let them hear the alert on the phone. This worked with our twins even as young as 2 years old.
No longer are you arbitrarily making your child switch activities (at least in your child’s mind). The 5-minute heads up has ended and it is time for the piano practice routine.
Supporting Your Child
You are amazing. (As parents, we don’t always get to hear that.) I know that you have a lot of roles and responsibilities. The fact that you are reading this article shows you want to best support your child as they learn piano.
While learning piano (or any instrument) does mean you will be setting up and guiding the practice routine during the week, it is well worth it.
Before you know it, you will be listening to your child happily create music and exploring the piano. Even if he or she did ask why it was practice time initially.
To help support you further, below are 5 ways you can support your child during their piano practice routine this week!