Kids love making music on the piano, but very few of them love to practice. What, you say? What’s the difference between playing the piano and practicing? Let me tell you.
Imagine that after watching the World Cup, your child gets excited and wants to learn to play soccer. So you give your child a soccer ball and say, “Go out in the yard and play around with this ball for as long as you feel like it.” And that’s it. Is your child going to become a good soccer player merely by playing around with a soccer ball? True, playing around with the ball will help them develop some familiarity with it, but are they going to learn the right way to dribble or take a shot?
If you’re serious about helping your child become a soccer player, you’ll sign them up on a team and take them to practice, where they’ll learn basic skills and do them over and over again. If you’re really serious, you’ll help your child practice these skills at home. It’s different from actually “playing soccer” which is the fun part we get to do, and do really well, because we’ve practiced the skills that it takes to do it.
Learning the piano is the same way. At practice time, if you let your child sit down at the keyboard and play around for a while, which is what most children will do if left to themselves, that won’t build the skills your child needs to become a good piano player. Your role in your child’s piano practice is to provide the structure that will lead to progress.
As much as children enjoy playing the piano, most of them don’t have the discipline to practice on their own. That’s where a parent comes in. Your job is to make sure that quality practice happens on a daily basis. That means you need to pay attention to what’s happening at the piano. It doesn’t mean you need to be fussy and bossy and nag at your child about missed notes. It means you should encourage, remind, and help keep your child on track. Think of it like going out in the back yard to be the goalie while your child works on that soccer kick. Practicing together is always more fun.