After the video that I posted last week, I got a whole bunch of people reaching out to me and asking me how I got my kid to practice every day so I wanted to detail that experience in a way that would help you if maybe you are also a parent trying to get your child or children to practice on a daily basis. It also really works well if you’re trying to get yourself to practice, if you’re someone who’s maybe taking one of my online courses or you’ve studied piano before and it’s a habit you’re trying to get back into. To get my son to practice every day, it took some work, but it was totally worth it!
The story of how I get my son to practice:
To set the story, I started teaching my son piano lessons when he was about four. I had no intentions to start him that young but he was begging me to learn. He’s been seeing me teach for his entire life and he said ‘it’s not fair that your students get to take lessons and I don’t’ so I said okay, but if you’re going to take lessons you have to practice every day.
My son would get up at 6:00am or 6:30am and I realized that he started going to school at that time too so if I was going to get him to be able to practice in a focused way, I was probably better off to do that earlier in the day than to try to attempt that after school. On some days after school there’s certain activities, he would be tired, I would be busy etc. I frequently teach in the after school hours too, so it seemed like the easiest place to be able to practice. If he gets up at 6:00 or 6:30, it really doesn’t take that long to eat breakfast, get cleaned up and get dressed for the day so I thought, well let me see if I can get him to practice before school at 7:45 in the morning.
Now I’m not saying you have to get up at this ungodly hour in the morning but I just want to show you what my process was. Rather than trying to get him to sit for 30 minutes all the time I said we’re gonna sit down every day at 7:45 and we did that for a couple of weeks where I would have to remind him. I knew that 7:30 was going to be cutting it close so I waited until 7:45 and we really established that routine over the course of a great many weeks. Sometimes, we would only sit for five minutes. We would try to have five successful minutes of something; of me teaching him a little bit, taking him through something, and we just gently over the course of many weeks and months kind of expanded that time. We eventually moved it to 7:30 in the morning which means that we can get a good 20 or 30 minute guided practice session done.
When he was little, obviously he needed some support establishing a routine. It took several months but now he’s very well trained so it’s a non-issue that he just immediately goes and sits down at the piano at 7:30. A lot of times, he’s there before me so it’s been good for my accountability too.
Establishing a Musical Practice Routine:
Were some mornings a disaster? Oh yes – there have been a great many mornings where it’s just not really working out, there’s some days where we just say, you know what forget about it we won’t do it today. With a habit, the idea of us not practicing is the exception to the rule. It’s not in anything in the same way that he brushes his teeth in the morning. He knows that he has to practice in the morning so that’s really taken the fight out of it.
I realize I am lucky that he is very motivated because he sees me play and sees me practice, he sees me teaching and he has a strong desire to learn, but I think for a lot of piano students out there or any music student, there’s a reason that they’re doing it and my experience has been that the reason that a lot of people quit is not because the lessons aren’t working, it’s because the practice time hasn’t been established.
Nobody wants to practice all the time
Now to be fair, nobody really wants to practice, nobody really wants to move through what they’re doing. Nobody wants to suck at it & honestly nobody wants it to be difficult. But the piano students, just from the experience of being a teacher, the students that really stick to it are the ones that feel the progress, the ones that feel the progress are the ones that are practicing. As teachers, we can help our students to be able to find time to troubleshoot that – as parents of piano or music students we can also help to establish that as a routine.
How can this practice hack work for you
Now anyone who’s reading this who doesn’t have children or has children who are grown, you may see the parallels here of how this could work for you. In the way that there’s parallels like where I would sit in the room with my son and help him, you could think about that if you’re taking any of my online courses. When you’re watching the video and practicing along with any of the videos, I’m technically in the room with you supporting you in the same way that I support my son when he’s doing his work! Maybe a few times a week you have that supported time then you have a couple of independent sessions where you practice the work that is listed in all the downloadable print content.
I know a lot of people are still working from home. I have several students who are professional people who have started to squeeze their practice time into the lunch hour. You have your sandwich or whatever and then you can sit down then instead of just scrolling or binging out on the news or watching some junk, you could sit down and say well this is going to be my time to do it and again my students have told me that this has been really fantastic it’s something that’s energizing, it’s something that is relaxing it’s something that is probably very different than what you’re doing in your work life so you might think of it as a palate cleanser to get you ready for the afternoon, much the same way that a lunchtime workout works.
I had so many people asking ‘how did you get your kid to practice at 7:30 every day?’ It was not magic and if you’re an adult person watching this trying to see how you can get this to work for you, it’s not magic. It’s a commitment and it’s something that you really have to establish as something that is as natural to you as brushing your teeth. Whether you’re doing it as somebody who’s trying to find a way to express yourself creatively or whether you’re somebody who’s maybe taking one of my course or a voice teacher, you’re a singer and you really see this as a skill that’s important for you to gain, the best way that you’re gonna be able to actually tackle this is to do it every day to practice a little bit every day.
My 8 year old practices the piano every single day without fail and (almost) without tears. How did I get him to do that? How will this help YOU to practice regularly? Watch the video to find out! Want more practice help? Check out these videos!
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