How to Create a Piano Practice Routine (and Still Get Everything Done)

How to Create a Piano Practice Routine (And Still Get Everything Done)

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.

What IS the difference between music lessons, sports & dance?

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Look at the spaces in between school, work, extra-curricular activities, appointments, etc.
  3. Write in time for your child to wind down after school and before bed.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Bonus Strategy

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!

How to Support Your Child During Practice

Setting Up a New Year's Piano Practice Routine

Setting Up a New Year Piano Practice Routine

Welcome to a New Year, piano parents! I am always very excited to see my students after the holidays. This is also a time of year that many families are working on setting up a new year piano practice routine.

A regular piano practice routine ensures that your child will make steady progress throughout the year.

Imagine back when your child was learning how to read. Which scenario has your child reading more quickly?

  • Reading to your child every day & having your child read small sections to you as well.
  • Once a week, you & your child sit down to review & learn new phonetic rules followed by practicing reading a story together.

I think we can both agree that the second scenario leads to a child who not only reads more quickly, but enjoys reading more often as well.

Routines Make it Easy

We have set up various routines with our twin boys over the years. Part of this is because I do not want to repeat myself a million times. (Does any parent want to?) The other part is that as a teacher I learnt how important routines are for children.

Did you know that routines help children feel more confident & foster independence?

When children know what the expectations are & what is coming up next, they can make mental shifts on their own. Instead of parents guiding everything for them.

Build Off What Exists Already

My children know that when they come home from school they need to:

  • Put their agendas on the table for me to look over & sign.
  • Put away lunchbox dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Wash their water bottle.
  • Have a snack while we talk about their day.

Once this is done, there is homework to start or other chores to get done.

Sometimes friends come over & this routine gets thrown off a little. But, most days my children come home knowing these are the expectations.

Rather than setting up piano practice as a completely separate routine, link it to something your child already does on a regular basis.

What is something that happens in your home each day that your child is very familiar with?

  • Before leaving for school
  • After your child’s after-school snack
  • While you are making dinner
  • After dinner, before screentime
  • Before bed

Make a Piano Practice Routine

Linking piano practice to an already existing routine is the first step. But, it can not stop there.

Expecting a child to remember he or she needs to practice on their own is not reasonable.

Even as adults we need reminders as we set up new routines. Even if it is a return to a routine after holidays.

So, why do we expect otherwise from our children?

Remind, Remind, Remind

While my children know what the after school routine is, there are things that routinely fall through the cracks if I do not remind them.

Putting away dishes & washing the water bottle are the two big ones. Partly because they are not fans of washing dishes & partly because it so much easier to leave everything either on the counter directly above the dishwasher or even better in the backpack. I have a feeling you can relate.

I have two choices:

  • Clean up after my children.
  • Remind them each & every day until they remember on their own.

As a couple, my husband & I have chosen the second option. We strongly believe that our children need to learn how to independently do things & a big part of being a family is working together to get things done around our home.

As a piano parent, your responsibility is training your child to make piano practice a regular part of their day.

In other words, you need to set up a piano practice routine for your child that works with your family’s schedule. And, then you need to make sure it happens.

If I ever find a way to make my children do a new routine perfectly the first time I tell them, don’t worry. I will be sure to let you know as well!

Us parents need to stick together.

Make a Piano Practice Routine


Linking piano practice to an already existing routine is the first step. But, it can not stop there.

Expecting a child to remember he or she needs to practice on their own is not reasonable.

Even as adults we need reminders as we set up new routines. Even if it is a return to a routine after holidays.

So, why do we expect otherwise from our children?

Remind, Remind, Remind

While my children know what the after school routine is, there are things that routinely fall through the cracks if I do not remind them.

Putting away dishes & washing the water bottle are the two big ones. Partly because they are not fans of washing dishes & partly because it so much easier to leave everything either on the counter directly above the dishwasher or even better in the backpack. I have a feeling you can relate.

I have two choices:

  • Clean up after my children.
  • Remind them each & every day until they remember on their own.

As a couple, my husband & I have chosen the second option. We strongly believe that our children need to learn how to independently do things & a big part of being a family is working together to get things done around our home.

As a piano parent, your responsibility is training your child to make piano practice a regular part of their day.

In other words, you need to set up a piano practice routine for your child that works with your family’s schedule. And, then you need to make sure it happens.

If I ever find a way to make my children do a new routine perfectly the first time I tell them, don’t worry. I will be sure to let you know as well!

Us parents need to stick together. So if you find the secret before I do, please let me know.

In the meantime, take heart in the fact that your children will eventually have a piano practice routine that is not guided by you.

How to Support Your Child

The last thing any of us want to do with our children is have a fight every time they need to do something.

A piano practice routine should not involved battle lines & you wondering if it will all be worth it.

For FIVE ways to support your child as you set up a piano practice routine without tears, click below!

How to Support Your Chld During Practice

5 Tips to Get Ready for Piano Lessons in the New Year!

5 Tips to Get Ready For a New Year of Piano Lessons

The kids have been out of school for a few weeks. And, extra curricular activities probably went on hiatus as well. So, how do you get your child ready for a new year of piano lessons?

The result of a break in playing

Anytime we take a break from something, there will be some regression.

This is not to make anyone feel guilty. We all need breaks at times.

But, that does mean that your child will feel a little (or a lot) hesitant about playing pieces “at level” those first lessons back. Especially if they did not play piano at all over the break.

5 tips for piano parent

To help your child feel excited and ready to go back to lessons, follow these 5 tips!

  • Ask them to play some of their all-time favourite pieces.
  • Do a countdown until lessons begin!
  • Talk about what your child is really proud of accomplishing or doing before the holidays.
  • Follow up by asking what your child is really excited about or hoping to do in the lessons coming up.
  • Listen to lots of music together. What did you like? What did you think should have been changed?

When you ask your child to play their all-time favourite pieces, you are doing two things.

  • Keeping a set of pieces ready for performance.
  • Your child is “practicing” without realizing it. And, the important review needed happens with a smile on his or her face.

Much like helping our children learn to read, keep the review experience as positive as possible.

Play music in your home

Growing up, the radio was always playing in our home. And, if it was not the radio it was a record/tape/CD. I loved having this music playing in the background. And, it also helped me when I was ready to practice since I could emulate the “Greats” in whichever genre I had been listening to.

One of the most important things you can do as a piano parent is surround your child with great music.

Ms. Rosemarie

When your child consistently hears and interacts with music, they develop a sense of what sounds good and what they like to listen to. It also gives your child an auditory vocabulary (or lexicon) that will inspire their own playing!

The fun consequences

In our home, this exposure to a wide variety of music has led to some fun consequences.

Our twins will often sing different lyrics to songs. “I am having cer-eal. Yes! I’m going to have cereal. For my break-fast. This morning!” All sung to the tune of “We’re Not Gonna Take It (Anymore)” by Twisted Sister.

Or, we have impromptu dance parties which can start for the strangest reasons. One of the boys will do something that reminds him of a song, like “Fly Like an Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band and this ends up to a full out dance party by the time we get to “Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. (Though the Marvin Gaye version holds a special place in my heart.)

Plus, it just is not a true road trip until we have changed the chorus of “Sweet Home Alabama” to “sweet home Alberta”. Bonus points if we are driving past the border at the time.

These are the memories that our twins will remember when they get older. Not the chores or doing homework. Even though all those things need to get done as well.

Music brings families together and creates a special space unique to them.

What musical memories are you making with your child this week?

Ms. Rosemarie

First days back at lessons

At Must Love Music, students are asked at various points during the year (including after a break in lessons) for a personal musical goal they have. It could be a particular song to learn, mastering a set number of songs, or improve in a particular skill set.

While your child’s teacher will probably spend a short portion of time discussing this with your child, a little time at home really helps.

“What is ONE thing you like to accomplish in piano lessons?”

“Umm. I’m not sure?”

Your child’s teacher and you are on the same side. You both want your child to have the best possible piano lesson experience possible!

Encouraging students to take ownership of their learning through personal goal setting is part of this process.

When your child really talks up a particular song, ask them if it is something they are hoping to learn at some point in piano lessons. If the answer is yes, contact your child’s teacher to let him or her know. Perhaps they have music or can begin teaching it to your child at the next lesson!

Getting Ready For a New Year of Piano Lessons

A little preparation both at and away from the piano can make a world of difference in how your child sees going back to piano lessons.

Keep it fun and light. Let your child know their opinion is valued.

And just like Christmas, perhaps an excited countdown to first day of piano lessons.

If you would like to learn more about being a piano parent, click below.

Learn about the role of piano parents

Am I ready for my child to take piano lessons?

Am I Ready For My Child To Take Piano Lessons?

A lot of articles focus on whether a young child is ready for piano lessons.  But, did you know that it isn’t just the child that needs to be ready for the lessons?

As parents, we are busy.  Between work, managing kids homework & extra-curricular activities for the kids & ourselves, it can be a surprise when it comes to piano lessons.

“What do you mean I have to be involved?  Don’t they go to lessons & you take care of the rest?”

When your children are very young, your involvement is what helps make lessons a success.

Continue reading

Becoming a Piano Parent!

Congratulations! You Have Joined the Piano Parents Club!

Congratulations!  You have joined the ranks of piano parents!  You may not be standing on the sidelines yelling, but you play just as much of a role in how successful your child will be in lesson.

What do piano parents do?

Being a piano parent is a pretty awesome role!

You are the parent that:

  • Cheers when your child completes a song or has a breakthrough.
  • Helps your child learn time management through a practice routine.
  • Supports your child as he (or she) learns how to verbally and musically express ideas, emotions, stories, etc.
  • Guides your child through navigating the practice page.
  • Encourages your child to ask questions when he or she is unsure.
  • Steps in as the ‘student’ when your child needs to talk something out.
  • Lets your child know how proud you are of them.

Notice that some of this happens during lesson.  But, most of it happens during the week.

In between lessons

Piano parents play a huge role in success between lessons.  Because your child’s teacher is not involved in what happens in between lessons, that responsibility falls to you and your child.  The younger your child, the more that responsibility falls to you, as the parent.

What IS the difference between music lessons, sports & dance?

Why do they forget?

My children are growing up fast, but there are still many thing they need to be reminded of.  “Did you brush your teeth?” “Did you pack your lunch?” 

Even if my children have been doing something on their own for years, there are times they forget. 

And, anything new needs continual reminders by us, as parents, to ensure our children follow through on their responsibilities.  Even though there are moments we would just like to take a break from ‘adulting’. 

The short explanation for these memory lapses is that our children’s bodies and minds are going through so much growth, it can be hard to remember it all.

Thankfully the older our children get, the more responsibility we can give them.  But, that does not change the fact that they still need encouragement, a listening ear, and the occasional reminder.  After all, we all forget sometimes.

A Team Effort

Piano lessons are not just a relationship between student & teacher. It is a team effort between student, teacher & parent.

Piano parents play such a large part of this team effort because you:

  • Have lots of experience helping your child through different stages of life
  • Control, to a much great extent than anyone else, the weekly schedule
  • Are the adult who supports your child during the week (the piano teacher does not have this option)
  • Can be the ‘go-between’ when there is a miscommunication between your child & their teacher.
  • Know your child better than anyone else

Perhaps you do not consider yourself a musical person. “I have never played piano. How am I supposed to support my child?”

Neither of my parents learnt how to play a musical instrument. And, yet they had a daughter who was determined to learn how to play piano.

Supporting my piano learning became more natural for them over time. But, there was a learning curve that they went through.

While my parents were not able to help me read the music, what I remember the most about their support was:

  • Praise & comments on my hard work
  • Ensuring the piano was regularly tuned so I had a great instrument to play on
  • Making it possible for me to share my piano playing with others

They even one summer enrolled me in a weekly long immersive organ course. Turns out that I was not interested in pursuing organ afterward. But, I did have a much great understanding of keyboard instruments afterwards that had a positive impact on my piano playing.

Much like becoming a parent for the first time, piano parents go through the same highs & lows as they figure out how this “piano practice thing” works.

To learn how to support your child during week, click below!

How to Support Your Chld During Practice