What To Do When Your Child Won’t Practice (Part 2)

Wednesday's post had some solutions for the resistant practiser. Here are a few more!

  • Where are they practising - is the piano far away from where the rest of the family is spending time or is the piano in a place that is distracting when they are working?  Sometimes parents put the piano in a place that is far away from where the rest of the family congregates during practice time (like a formal living room when the family spends time in the family room) because they want to limit distractions and feel students can concentrate better.  While I agree with this logic, often if students are practising alone this removal from family activity can feel very isolating and practice might start to be perceived as a punishment.  If moving the instrument into a more common area is not possible, sit with your child as they practice.  Make it a special time for you and your child - a thing to celebrate and makes them special.  They get your undivided attention for the duration of practice and they are not distracted.  If you can move your instrument to a more common area this might make your student feel better about practising.  They can show off what they know to the family and other family members might encourage them to practice and then celebrate what they have accomplished.  
  • Are they practising by themselves?  Like the above point - practising in isolation can feel like punishment.  For young children this is challenging - they need help remembering to practice and to stay on task.  Helping young students on a daily basis can build confidence, their skill base and enjoyment of practice.  Pre-teen and early teenagers can befit from having a parent sit with them from time to time - it shows you are interested in what they are doing and they get to show off to you.  The key is that for children, practising is not something they will do on their own (for the most part) and they need your support to be successful with it.  
  • Is practising something that happens sometimes or is it a routine you implement every day?  My mother made me practice at 7 PM every day.  Regardless of if it was a weekend a holiday or my birthday.  7 PM came around and I had to practice. This made a world of difference in how I viewed practice as a teenager and as a young adult.  Even now sometimes 7 PM comes around and I think that I need to practice.  Routine helps remove the negative stigma.  
  • Do they worry that practising will be a very long time?  Set a timer and show students that practice time goes pretty quickly and celebrate what has been accomplished.  
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