Make a Practice Journal
Start Each Session with Good Piano Posture Review
Feel the Finger Power
Just like you do stretching exercises to warm up at the start of a workout or before playing a sport, piano players need to get their fingers moving at the start of a practice session. Finger power exercises, like pentascales and hand-over-hand chords, build strength, agility, and coordination. Several lessons in each unit teach these exercises. Here’s a list of all the finger power exercises in the first three units:
- Unit 1: lessons 5 (black key smashes), 9 (stepping up and down the black keys), 16 (C Major arpeggios), 12 (C major pentascale), and 18 (D Major pentascale).
- Unit 2: lessons 24 (chords in C), 29 (D Major scales, arpeggios, and chords), and 35 (G Major pentascale).
- Unit 3: lessons 46 (F Major pentascale), 48 (stepping and skipping), and 58 (E Major pentascale).
Practice a New Song
Sing the song without playing. Move your hands up and down with the melody as you sing. Next, play the song while singing at least four times. I sometimes like to ask my students to “play their age,” playing the song once for each year of their age. Or, for more fun, try a practice game**.
Review Previous Songs
Play each of the songs you’ve already learned in your current unit. Here’s a list of the songs from each unit:
- Unit 1: Hot Cross Buns, Engine Engine, Five Woodpeckers, Frog in the Middle, Chocolate, Listen for Bells
- Unit 2: Rain Come Wet Me, Mouse in the House, Who’s That?, Let Us Chase the Squirrel, Dinah, The Wild Horses
- Unit 3: Silver Birch Tree, Cuckoo, Grinding Corn, Love Somebody
This is a great time to use the Practice CD tracks from the Lesson Materials. You can also try a “Super Challenge,” like playing with your eyes closed, singing solfege or letter names of notes as you play, or playing with your right hand, then left hand, then both hands together.
Piano Fun Time
At the end of practice, have a little fun. Make up your own song or finger power exercise. Play your favorite song from the lessons a few extra times and experiment with changing octaves or adding a new part. This is also a good time to do an activity page from the Lesson Materials.
Consistency and Incentives
Some children find it rewarding enough just to be able to cross off boxes on a checklist when they’re done with each item. Others like to be earning a favorite activity or a treat. Whatever else you choose as incentives for consistent practice, help your child realize that as they complete each day, each week, and each two-week practice chart, their skills are growing. Let them know how pleased you are with how hard they’re working and how much they’ve learned. That’s what practice is for!