Many of my students this semester are brand new to piano. Several are the very first in their family to ever try playing an instrument! I love seeing the fresh waves of excitement that are always sparked at the beginning of a musical journey, and I’m not surprised that parents love seeing it too.
If you’re a parent with children in music lessons, you probably remember the nervous energy, beaming post-lesson faces, and growing self-assurance of the early days. You may be in that phase yourself! My goal today is to answer some questions I’ve heard recently from new-to-music parents.
How often should my child practice?
Throughout the journey of playing an instrument, consistency is vital to the learning process. At the very beginning, your child is learning a habit of daily practice that will be essential to their progress later. Practicing every day is a good goal – your teacher can give you a realistic expectation for daily practice session length.
Should I buy a real piano?
This is a tricky one, since every family’s situation is different. The best option for piano practice is an acoustic piano. If your family has access to one, your child should be practicing on it. If you don’t have one, consider making the investment. Pianos can be cheaper than you think, and there’s nothing wrong with purchasing a used piano! Talk with your teacher if you have questions about purchasing a piano that’s right for your budget.
If an acoustic piano is simply not an option, beginning students can still progress while practicing on an electric keyboard. The ideal keyboard will be as similar to an acoustic piano as possible – look for one with weighted keys. However, as your child progresses further, they will need to begin practicing on an acoustic piano.
My child doesn’t seem to be getting better lately. Should we keep taking lessons?
I’ve heard so many variations of this question, and it’s completely understandable. Playing an instrument requires a blend of so many different physical and mental skills. Every child acquires these skills at totally different rates! This means that progress happens slowly and then more quickly in cycles over time.
If your child is practicing consistently and still doesn’t seem to be making progress, don’t quit! They are probably in the process of incorporating a new mental or physical skill into their playing. Given time, those skills will “click” and a new era of progression will begin. It may also be that your child needs a new practice strategy. What works well in one season of growth may not always transfer perfectly to the next. Talk to your teacher about progression – no one knows more about your child’s musical growth than their teacher!
I’m not a musician. What’s the best way for me to support my child taking lessons?
I love hearing this question. It’s a sincere reminder of how deeply parents care about their children’s success. If you are asking this question, you’ve already got the right attitude!
One of the best ways parents can help their children is by giving gentle practice reminders. Young children can often forget to practice, and parents are in a great position to give reminders until the habit is established. Framing practice as an exciting after-school activity can keep children from dreading it as a chore.
Every child is different, and every parent can support their child in different ways. Specific encouragements or rewards could be great for one child and useless for another. Talk to your teacher about your child’s practice habits and overall attitude towards the instrument. You both can work out a strategy that’s right for your child’s temperament and experience level.
What questions did you have when your child first started lessons? Let us know in the comments!