If you have two or more piano students in your household, your piano may be getting quite the work-out. Here are some tips for making sure everyone gets the time on the piano that they need.
Make a Plan
It is important to choose a consistent time of day for music practice even when there’s only one piano student in a household. When there’s more than one, it becomes even more important. Since it is hard to schedule things down to the minute when children are involved, you may have more success if you block out certain times of day, such as before school, after school, and after dinner. Each child gets their own “piano zone” when they get priority for practice time. This doesn’t mean that no one else can use the piano during this time, but the child with priority gets the piano if they want it.
Recruit Junior Practice Partners
Depending on the age and maturity of your children, you can recruit them to help each other with their piano practice. Teaching someone else almost always helps you to learn it better yourself! Practice games might be even more fun with a sibling than with a parent. Be sure to monitor junior practice partners and make sure that things stay positive and fun, with no resentment or jealousy starting to crop up.
Making New Habits
While establishing a new practice routine, it is important to give a lot of attention and reward until the habit is formed. Start with a short-term reward program, something like, “If everyone practices the piano this week the way we’ve talked about, we’ll all go out for ice cream on Saturday.” It is okay if they don’t get it right the very first time, but if your kids go too long without reaching the reward, you’ve set the bar too high. Aim for something you’re pretty sure they can do with a little effort, and then increase the challenge.
Get a Second Keyboard
Having a second keyboard gives you the advantage that two students can practice at once. Of course this solution isn’t for everyone, but it can help out a lot if there’s competition for the family piano. Our family has really enjoyed having an acoustic piano as well as a keyboard with headphones in a separate room. This way both of our boys can practice at the same time, and it is also possible to practice early in the morning or late at night without disturbing other family members or neighbors.
Encourage Playing Together
If you have more than one child learning the piano you have a magnificent opportunity to help your children learn to play together. Encourage them to sit down at the piano and improvise. One of our favorite piano games as kids was to create a thunderstorm on the piano. One of us would play the low notes for the thunder, one would play the high notes for the wind and the rain. The storm would start out soft, then get louder and louder, and then die away in the distance. We’d switch places and the storm would start all over again.
You can also help your children find sheet music for piano duets to learn to play together.
Be a Happy Piano Family
Sharing music together can bring a great sense of joy and family unity. With a little planning and creativity, sharing a piano together can be part of the fun.