Here are some guidelines:
- Make practice space a sacred place. It’s really difficult to practice when competing with a television show or movie, or a lengthy and loud conversation, including on the phone.
- We can’t all have a beautiful grand piano in the designated formal living room bay window, but you can make your space a comfortable place by making sure it’s warm (or cool), has proper lighting, a place to put music, binders, and pencils. I will often put something special on my piano that I like to look at and that makes me smile when I sit down to practice. Try putting a comfy chair and blanket in the practice space for theory work and research.
- I once had a student who was not getting enough practice and she seemed truly frustrated at her lessons. I asked her why she wasn’t getting more practice and she said, “I don’t like to go downstairs by myself.” Her piano was in the basement, in a semi-dark corner. Even if a parent can’t sit with their child during practice time, it’s helpful to at least be in the same area.
- Offering personal incentives at home for progress and achievement is another good way for parents to show support which will help a student feel motivated. Parents know what motivates their children – use that knowledge! Sticker charts, gift cards, a day off from chores, a trip for ice cream or a movie, etc.
- Find time to have a family recital or talent show where all the hard work of practice pays off in performance and applause.
- Ask your child about their music. What are you learning? Do you like it? Who is the composer? Is it hard? Ask your child about their lessons. Are you still liking your teacher? Does he give you good assignments? Let your child know you are interested and invested in their music.