Category Archives: Practise Tips

What is Piano Practise? – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

The single most important activity for musicians. It helps us reach our goals and improve our skill, bringing great satisfaction. But if it is viewed as just another activity to squeeze into the schedule, you are doing both your child and your investment a disservice.

What are you achieving by encouraging your child to regularly participate in effective practise?

You are furthering connections.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSWNot just between your child and their instrument, but also between your child and music in general. There have been lots of studies proving the benefits of music to our brains, but these benefits won’t occur by just turning up to a 30-minute lesson once a week. They will also learn more about their instrument – how it feels, how it sounds, what it can do – and will become more attuned to how they can control what sound it can produce.

You are encouraging your child to become an independent problem solver.

Any good teacher will teach their students all the tools they need to get themselves out of a tricky situation. If they strike a problem while practising through the week, taking the, “I’ll wait until the next lesson to ask my teacher” response is not an appropriate solution. I encourage my students to contact me with questions, rather than waste a whole week, but even then I don’t just give them the answer. Working out ways to discover the solution and being able to move forward is very rewarding and as well as improving their problem-solving skills, also gives them confidence.

You are providing an opportunity for them to exercise exacting mental concentration.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSWTo play an instrument, your child’s brain is processing a great number of details simultaneously, combining rhythm, pitch, technique, body positioning, fine motor skills, dynamics, texture, tonal shading and more. The synapses being developed in the brain of a musician are unique.

 

You are helping them to develop the skill of listening as opposed to just hearing.

Effective practise involves your child really listening to what they are producing and finding ways to improve that sound. From obvious changes in dynamics, through to subtle variances in tone and phrasing, they will learn to really pay attention to what is beneath the surface.

You are teaching them how to persevere and work towards a long-term goal.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSWPiano skills don’t instantly appear, but grow over time. Having a goal towards which they can steadily progress gives your child the opportunity to understand the concept of steady progress and delayed gratification.

 

 

You are showing them how to schedule and prioritise.

Following on from the point above, having a goal necessitates scheduling and prioritising. If practise is scheduled into their routine along with homework and jobs around the house, they will learn how scheduling allows time for everything to happen, and that all those things happening means they reach all their goals.

You are maximising your investment

You have invested financially in lessons and have also invested your (and your child’s) time. Ensuring they make the most of the opportunity makes your time and money investment more worthwhile.

What is not piano practise?

No improvement. Muddling through a piece from beginning to end without working on sections to facilitate improvement is not practise, it is just playing. When this happens, your child is probably also not playing with any joy, because they are constantly struggling. Don’t feel that just getting through a piece is a goal to tick off the list. A small section of improvement is far better than a whole piece left at the same level.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

What’s in a Name? Should We Rename Practising? – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

During her lesson, Miss 12 worked hard on learning a tricky section of her new piece and was feeling proud. After lots of praise, I asked her what she needed to do next to ensure she didn’t forget it. Her face fell, her shoulders slumped and she mumbled, “Practise.”

Why is it such a dirty word? Why do students work so hard to resist practising?

To an adult, it’s a pretty simple equation… they want to play well, so they know they have to do some work to reach that goal. But the kids still only see it as a chore, even though they have the same goals. I thought about the other activities in their lives.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSWWhen they play sport, they accept they will have to go to training sessions. Many of them probably practise their ball skills at home. But they don’t call it practise.

Dancers are usually working towards exams or recitals or both. They need to put in many hours of practise to get to that level. But they don’t call it practise.

Children work hard all day at school and come home with more work to do. Short-term and long-term homework assignments. But they don’t call it practise.

Training. Rehearsing. Drilling. Preparing. So many other words for what is essentially the same skill; repeated exercise of an activity or skill to acquire or maintain proficiency.

Miss 5 arrived at her lesson after a celebration day at school and announced, “We didn’t do any learning today, so I don’t think you should teach me anything now.” (Mind you, lessons for that age involve a lot of movement, games and activities, so it’s not about boring learning). She didn’t want to be taught.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSWThese days there are coaches for everything – fitness coaches, vocal coaches, sport coaches, diet coaches, life coaches, drama coaches, executive coaches, dance coaches. The list goes on and on.

I wonder if the language directs the perception? Perhaps piano teachers should become piano coaches. Maybe kids should be training or rehearsing between their coaching sessions.

Either way, when kids don’t practise, piano lessons are not productive. Consistent, effective practise provides the lesson with something upon which to build and keeps the progress moving forward. With no practise, the same pieces, skills and information are having to be repeated every week and lessons begin to feel like being stuck in a rut. Nobody likes that!

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSWTry it out with your kids. Change the language. See if they are happier to rehearse or to train or even to prepare for their next coaching session. Modify the vocabulary and find what works for them. Whether we like it or not, neglecting practise – or not practising enough – is not going to get them anywhere. But perhaps rehearsing or training will.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

Encouraging More Practise – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

As we start another year after a lengthy Summer break, I thought it was a good time to revisit an old post about ways you can help your kids to advance with the piano by practising effectively.

Establishing a practising routine can be hard work! Playing the piano is not easy and your kids will try all sorts of excuses to get out of practising. It is important to set practise time into their general routine so it has a place and is not just something that is done if they have leftover time.

Following are some tips to encourage more practise:

  • Never underestimate a reward system. Use whatever works for your child; it could be anything from extra iPad time to an exemption from a household chore. Their reward may even be a favourite meal.
  • Schedule practise time to happen before something they can relax with – free play time, for example. Of course, if you suspect this may lead them to rush through practise with no concentration, try another tactic.
  • Give your child something exciting to work for. Anticipation works wonders. Set a practise goal, wrap a little gift and pop it somewhere they can see it. Only when they reach the practise goal are they able to open their gift.
  • Connect their practise session with another activity that occurs every day. Perhaps your child could practise straight after breakfast or maybe before they start their homework. Whatever works for you.
  • Remember to reward yourself. This is your journey as well, so find something fun with which to reward yourself when you are successful at getting your kids to practise. Or maybe even something you could do together.

Piano Teacher Wallsend Newcastle NSW

 

A great little resource for practising tips for parents is the e-book “101 Piano Practice Tips”, which is available through Amazon.

 

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

Staying in Shape (On Your Piano) Over Summer – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

Here in Australia, the school holiday break over Christmas is a long one. Six weeks to enjoy the warmth of Summer with lots of outdoor and fun activities.

But six weeks is an awfully long time to go without practising. Kids usually assume if they stop practising for a while, when they restart they will be able to pick up where they left off, but this is not the case. They will quickly realise they have gone backwards.

So what can you do to keep your playing in shape during such a long period of no lessons and no routine?

 1. Practise in the morning. If you are on break from school, choose a time in the morning for practising. This way, you know it will be done and you can then spend the rest of the day being able to say, ‘Yes!’ to any plans that may come your way. If you plan to practise later in the day, there is a very high likelihood that something else will come up and practise won’t happen.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSW2. Set a goal. No matter what your level, from beginner to advanced, you can benefit from setting some practise goals. You may want to learn a new song, memorise a piece or even improve your sight reading. Set interim goals for yourself along the way so you can check in and make sure you’re on track.

3. Practise sight reading. Sight reading is a skill that is invaluable. If you want to be able to jam with your friends, sight reading is of huge benefit. Do you want to be able to play ‘fun’ songs you hear on the radio? Sight reading lets you do this. You can also read music you like that is written for other instruments or find a friend and sight read duets. Make sight reading part of your practise sessions every day and you will soon see the benefits.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSW 4. Listen. While this won’t actually exercise your playing muscles, it is a very important part of learning and studying music. Listen to lots of different pianists and listen to other instruments as well. Children tend to only know the music styles listened to by their parents, so its a good opportunity for them to be exposed to a variety of genres. One of my students has grown up with the classic rock of her parents but has recently discovered musical theatre soundtracks (thanks, YouTube). She is enthralled with how the mood of the music tells a story and often comments on “the power” she hears in songs. Expose your musical ear to all sorts of things. You won’t like them all, but you will find plenty you do like.

5. Mental practise. If you are on a trip and won’t have access to your piano (or another one), upload some of the music you are working on to your phone, iPod, laptop, etc. Many of these pieces will be available on iTunes or you can have your teacher record them for you or find a (well-played) version on youTube. Take your sheet music along with you, too. If you are spending long hours in a car or on a plane, or spending several nights in a hotel, those are great opportunities to listen while following along to the music. You can also practise your fingering without having a piano; it is also a great opportunity to visualise how you want the music to sound.

6. Perform. Plan a little summer recital for your family and friends. Often the summer holidays are when people are more relaxed, on leave from work and have more free time. For many of the adults in your child’s life, it may be the only opportunity they get to hear your child play. If you are an adult pianist, when is the last time you played for somebody? Ask your friends to listen to you before you hang out. There is no such thing as too much playing in front of other people; it’s wonderful for building confidence and your listeners will also love it.Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSW

7. Have fun! When you’re working hard all year for exams or recitals, it’s often hard to find time to play other music. Summer is the perfect time to pull out the music you have always wanted to learn. Discover something new and learn how to play it, not for any reason other than you want to. Remember the joy.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

The Peak-End Rule and How it Makes Practising Less of a Chore – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

The street on which I lived as a child was on a moderate hill – not overly steep, but enough that you certainly knew you were walking up a hill. Our street fitted in with another to form a circle, so there were always two different ways to get home. The most direct way involved walking up the hill. The less direct way meant walking up more of the hill (in the other direction) and then turning and walking downhill for a while to reach the house. This was a bit of a no-brainer when walking, but riding a bike was a different story.

Which way to go? The shorter hill, right? Nope! Not for me. I needed to finish on that downhill run. I would choose to have a longer uphill ride just so I had that wonderful, free feeling of flying downhill at the end. As a bonus, I didn’t reach home tired and out of breath.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSW

Yummy dinner and vegetables. When you’re a child, those two things rarely go together. But we have to eat our veggies. So what do we do? My mother used to tell the story of being shut in the bathroom until she ate her peas. She would pop them one by one down the floor drain. At other times she would hide them under her mashed potatoes and on a really good night, she would manage to slide the potatoes (with hidden peas) onto her brother’s plate. The mashed potato story stayed with me and I quickly learnt that if I ate my veggies first – if I was lucky, covered with potato or gravy – then I could enjoy the rest of the meal without the vegetable concern hanging over my head. I still eat my veggies first.

So what does this have to do with playing the piano? More specifically, practising the piano?

The peak-end rule states that our evaluation of past experiences tend to be based on their most intense point (best or worst), and how they end. In a 1993 study, Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and colleagues asked a group of people to place their hands in uncomfortably cold water, but in two slightly different conditions. In one condition they had to keep their hand submerged in 14°C water for 60 seconds (which is not exactly comfortable). In another condition they were asked to place their hand in 14°C water for 60 seconds, but then leave it there for an additional 30 seconds while the temperature was gradually raised to 15°C. While 15°C is still unpleasant , is noticeably less painful than 14°C.

Given a choice, you would expect most people would choose the 60 seconds of pain rather than 60 seconds of pain + 30 more seconds of slightly reduced pain, right? But no. When given a choice of which trial to repeat, 69% of the participants chose to repeat the longer one – apparently perceiving that experience to be better overall, because of how the ending altered their perspective. Like riding up a longer hill just to experience the downhill run at the end.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSWWe can use this philosophy to make piano practise less of a chore and make it easier to get ourselves to practise again. Save the best for last. Have a piece that you enjoy playing sitting on the piano ready for you to turn to once the more challenging parts of practise are over. Or finish practise with the piece that requires the least work. Set yourself up so that you end practise on a positive note and you will feel much more inclined to practise again the next day.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

Creating a Practise Nest – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

Would you sleep soundly if the only place you could sleep was in the middle of your laundry while the washing machine and dryer were operating?

How productive would your work be if half the items you needed to do that work were not to hand?

If you were trying to study, would your effort be effective if you were banished to a cold, musty downstairs room away from the warmth and comfort of the main house?

Of course, we are more successful in what we do if we have everything we need, are in the best environment and are nice and comfy. It’s no different for our piano practise. If going to the piano is lonely, uncomfortable and disorganised, chances are you (or your child) won’t feel inclined to practise. What can we do to help?

We can create a ‘practise nest’. A place that is welcoming, comfortable and organised.

The wonderful folk at Teach Piano Today have provided some great tips for creating such a space. While they have been written for parents of piano kids, the same tactics apply for adult students; create a nest where you feel comfortable and have everything you need before you begin.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSW1. When choosing a location for your piano, select a space that is lived-in, welcoming, and well-lit. Keep it close to ‘the action’ but not in the action. Your children will gravitate to the piano more often if it is in a central place in your home. Avoid bedrooms, basements and other ‘put away’ places. Feeling shut-off from the family while practising will inevitably lead to a reluctance to spend time on the piano.

While choosing an appropriate space, also consider the noise factor; not only from the piano, but also from your family’s day-to-day activities. Your children want to be close by, but not competing with noise from televisions, dishwashers and washing machines.

2. Make the space warm and welcoming. Your children will be encouraged to spend upwards of 30 minutes every day in this space. Is it a happy place to be for this amount of time? Small adjustments to lighting and heating can make a world of difference. Seek out places with natural light and ensure it is a cheerful and welcoming space that will encourage your child to visit the piano often for their own enjoyment.

3. Ensure your children have all required materials at hand. Help your children put together a small basket or bin of everything they may need for home practise. Pens, pencils, highlighters, and post-it notes will give your children a sense of organisation that will then spill over into their practise habits. Your children will also need adequate lighting to see their music, and a comfortable bench at the correct height to practise comfortably and correctly.

4. Make the practice nest a communal space.  Children of any age appreciate company while they practise. Having a chair, couch, beanbag chair or pillows nearby where family members will be inclined to sit, listen and enjoy the music immediately sets the tone for happy time on the piano. Encourage siblings to stop by and listen quietly, and allow yourself even just 10 minutes to sit and listen with undivided attention each time your children practise. A set-up that is conducive to including the family in home practise will encourage everyone involved to make piano practise an activity the entire family can be a part of.

5. Set the stage for organisation. Ensure your children’s practise space is uncluttered and organised. Clear out old sheet music and books from the piano bench, use a magazine organiser to hold current and favorite materials, and minimise knickknacks and other distractions from the top of the piano. If you can, avoid having the piano room do “double-duty” for laundry, toys and other clutter. Having the books your children need at their fingertips reliably ensures that no time is spent searching for lost or crumpled music. Get into the habit of placing the piano books in their appropriate space immediately after each piano lesson so they are ready and waiting.

Plus one more! Adding small surprises to your children’s practice nest (fresh flowers, a hand-written note of encouragement, a small treat, a new sticker pad, a special pen etc.) helps to show that you value the time they are spending on the piano and that you appreciate their efforts and dedication. Preserving the “specialness” of their practise space encourages positive feelings towards their home music time.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

How to Practise Away From the Piano – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

It’s that time again… How do the holidays seem to come around so quickly? We’re no sooner getting into the swing of the term and the term is over.

Spring is in the air and we are picturing sunny days spent running around outside, all cares and responsibilities momentarily suspended. It’s a beautiful thought, isn’t it? But the reality is a little different. For those still learning in the early years/grades, for every week spent away from the piano, about two or three weeks’ work is undone. Have a break from practising in the holidays and you’ll find it harder to catch yourself back up on the other end.

So it goes without saying that I expect my students to maintain practise over the school holidays… although I also realise the reality is quite a different story.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSWHowever, for those who are going to be away from their piano for a period of time, standard practising obviously isn’t possible. I have posted before about ways to practise away from the piano, but that was more about keeping your repertoire fresh in your mind.

Val has written a great post over at takelessons.com that will run you through a host of activities you can do to enhance and maintain your technique while you aren’t near your piano, or are pressed for time. She has even included great infographic summaries you can use. Check it out and discover the things you can do to help your body form habits that will help you when you are back at the piano.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

Using Piano Pedals – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

When new students start with me, I always open up the piano and let them see the inside and how it works. Nearly without exception, the part that fascinates them the most is the mechanism for the pedals. They love to play with the pedals, as they can see and hear at the same time the differences depressing and releasing the pedals make.

The two or three pedals on your piano help make your playing dynamic and interesting, helping to provide tonal shading. However, there’s usually a fair bit to learn before the pedal can be introduced; you need to crawl before you can walk. By the time they get to use the pedal, students are usually pretty keen!

Correct use of the pedal involves placing your heel on the floor in front of the pedal so the ball of your foot rests comfortably on the pedal. Angling the ankle downwards should then depress the pedal, while bringing the ankle back up again (gently, or it will ‘clunk’) will release the pedal. Your heel should never leave the floor while pedalling as it is the pivot point. In the same way that playing the keys relies heavily on maintaining a loose, flexible wrist, playing the pedal relies on a flexible and comfortable ankle joint.

Composers use a few different ways to indicate when to depress the pedal, when to release it, and when to make a quick up-down pedal change. The picture below shows the different notations you will regularly see. A notch in the pedal line indicates a quick pedal change; lift your foot enough to allow the pedal to clear, and then quickly press the pedal down again.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSW

Each instrument has its own pedal personality and you will learn the idiosyncrasies of your own over time, just as with the rest of the piano.

The right pedal:

The pedal used most often is the right pedal, called the sustain or damper pedal. It has two main functions:

  1. Allows the sound to continue after the keys are released.
  2. Bringing a deeper, richer and more resonant quality to the timbre of the sound.

One thing that pianists tend to overlook is that during the Classical period (the generation of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, or roughly from 1750 to 1820), the sustain pedal was a special effect. Therefore it should be used carefully when playing their music.

The left pedal:

The left pedal is called the una corda or soft pedal.

The main function of the soft pedal is to change the timbre of the sound, making it sound more distant. It can create a hushed atmosphere. Making the sound softer is of secondary importance – you should be able to play pianissimo (very softly) without it.

When the composer wants you to use the soft pedal, you see the indication una corda. Release it when you see the indication tre corda

Frank Hutchens’s ‘Two Little Birds’ requests at the beginning that both pedals (meaning right and left) are used simultaneously. The soft pedal gives the quiet atmosphere of the woodlands with the birds in the distance, while the sustain pedal provides the gentle, legato sound.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSWThe middle pedal:

This pedal has a different purpose depending on whether you are playing a grand piano or an upright.

  • On a traditional grand piano, the middle pedal is known as the sostenuto pedal. It acts as a damper for only the notes your fingers are playing as you depress the pedal. For example, if you  play a chord in the bass and then depress the sostenuto pedal, you can then play crisp, staccato notes in the treble but only the bass chord will remain sustained.
  • Older upright pianos didn’t normally have a third, middle pedal. For those uprights that do have three, the middle pedal is commonly known as the practice pedal. It mutes all the strings, allowing you to play as normal (including using the other two pedals) but softening the overall sound substantially. There is a notch to the left of the pedal so it can be locked in place. It is great for practising without disturbing your neighbours.

A good ‘pedalling instinct’ is based on knowledge, a very good hearing and mindful practice. This is why it is not used extensively with beginners. They need to develop an understanding of the music and how they play before introducing the pedal to enhance it.

The most important thing about pedalling is to not overuse it. It only takes a little overuse of the sustain pedal for everything to sound blurry. Always ask yourself how using the pedal is going to improve what you are playing.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

Top Tips for Efficient Practise, Particularly for Adults – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

So many resources are available for helping kids practise. There are games, gimmicks, activity sheets and loads of tips for their parents. But what about the adult students? It seems as though the adults should be disciplined to practise, because they are choosing to learn, but the fact is adults have a lot of other pressures and demands on their time. It is often also a lonely pursuit – they don’t have parents involved and encouraging them.

Adult students in particular need their practise to be of good quality and very effective, as it’s often a struggle to find both the physical time and also the mental alertness required on a regular basis.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSWFollowing are some tips that can help you make the maximise the effectiveness of your practise time:

1. Be organised – Practicing the piano efficiently is all about organising yourself to get the best results from the effort expended. It’s essential to be very clear about your daily practice objectives. Writing a daily practise plan helps you to zoom in on your most important tasks tasks and will give you a feeling of accomplishment as you complete each one. Your teacher can help you with this.

2. Don’t try to multi-task – Discipline yourself to complete each practice goal before moving on to the next. If you can meet the goals on your (for example) Czerny study before moving on to your Mozart sonata you will find it far more effective than bouncing back and forth between the two. Don’t try to get each task perfect the first time; you just want to see you are improving and well on track to meeting your overall goal.

3. Only practice with full concentration – If your practise session doesn’t demand large reserves of concentration, then you’re not practising properly. Five minutes of concentrated practise is far more valuable than five hours of moving your fingers while your mind wanders. The mind must be active at all times, since it is first and foremost the mind that play the piano. I think this is one of the most difficult tips to master, especially for adults.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSW4. Schedule your practise sessions – While this seems self-explanatory, this technique will only work well when in conjunction with the tip above – if you schedule in time, you must be prepared to give that time your full concentration. For some, the best time may be first thing in the morning when the mind is fresh (and you will feel accomplished at  having started your day by completing a major task) while others may need to wait until the kids are in bed and the household jobs completed.

5. Always warm up first – Well warmed-up hands will allow you to accomplish the physical tasks demanded by difficult pieces with greater ease and with fewer errors. I find that scales and arpeggios make for the best warm-up. Even normal lessons here are usually started with exercises and scales (although warming up is only one of their many uses).

6. Practice slowly – It is a known psycho-physiological fact that the brain cannot absorb musical information in detail when playing fast. It is therefore essential to work slowly and carefully at all times. Speed can always be built up later, but forcing it too early jeopardises learning the piece correctly.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSW7. Keep a practise journal – A practise journal is a log of your practice sessions, including what you practise and for how long. It can be a notebook, a Word document, a spreadsheet or whatever works for you. At the end of each practise session, write down which pieces you worked on and how long you spent on each one. This can serve to force your mind to focus and may also help with planning future practise goals (in fact, it can be an interesting exercise to compare it to your original goals).

8. Practice only short passages – The brain absorbs musical information more readily when it is not overwhelmed by quantity. Each day, practice just one passage, and practice it with care and thoughtfulness. This makes for far more efficient practise in the long run.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSW9. Study away from the piano – This has been covered in more detail previously here. Some of the most efficient piano practise can be accomplished without a piano. You can do this by analysing the music and listening to it in your mind. Hear each voice in your mind and sing along and you might be surprised when you notice recurring themes and relationships, harmonic subtleties etc. You want to know you piece equally well with or without the music in front of you.

Most of these tips involve adjusting your mindset and – like many effective tools – require some effort. But the achievements are so much more rewarding when you appreciate the effort involved. I promise it’s worth it!

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

Filling Your Child’s Practise Tank (Part 2) – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

You have invested in piano lessons for your child and you believe in the benefits of music education. You love to see your child enjoying music, how hard they work and the joy it brings them.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSWA couple of weeks ago, I posted – here – about ways you can show your kids how much you value the effort they are making with learning the piano and how these strategies can help to refill their “practise tank” when it is running low. Ramp up your involvement by trying some of the following ideas:

1. Balloon Surprise – Fill a kitchen cupboard with balloons that will spill out when your child opens the door. Ask him or her to help you with dinner and wait for the cupboard to open. On each balloon write one thing you love about your child’s piano playing (e.g. “I love to hear you play when I’m making dinner” or “I can hear so much emotion when you play” etc). Read all the messages together.

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSW2. Surprise Sheet Music Shopping – When you collect your child from school, head off on a surprise trip to your local music shop and offer then the opportunity to choose any piece of sheet music or music book they like. Spend some time with them browsing through the options and finding just the right thing to take home. (Music stores are a treasure trove and can be overwhelming on the first visit, so ask the sales assistant to point you in the right direction for your child’s level).

3. Monday Morning Mirror Message – Use a white board marker to leave a message on your child’s mirror or the bathroom mirror before he or she wakes up. Write something like, “It makes me so happy to listen to you playing the piano.”

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSW4. Post Office Package – Create a little package of special treats and a note about your pride in your child’s piano accomplishments. Mail it to your child and let them discover it in the mail box.

 

5. Build Excitement – If a recital, performance or exam is drawing near, build excitement with a countdown. Use a whiteboard, blackboard or even just a piece of paper on the fridge with “___ days until Jane’s piano recital” written on it. You could also use a calendar and cross off the days. Either way, the important thing is showing you value involvement in the performance aspect of music and this will ensure participation well into the teen years.

6. UnBEARable – Probably more fitting for younger kids… Find some teddy bear stickers and attach one to each of ten Post-It notes. Write, “It’s unbearable without your piano music. Please play for us” on each note and hide them around the house in unexpected places. Each time your child comes across one, they can play a piece for you.

7. Buddy Practise – Piano practise can be lonely, but a buddy on the bench can make a lot of difference. Even if you don’t possess a snippet of musical know-how, your child will appreciate you being there with them and will love answering your questions. Your child’s teacher will be able to give you questions and activities to help you show your involvement.

Piano teacher in Wallsend NSWAs mentioned in the first list of suggestions, most of these ideas require some planning and effort, but it will be so worth it when your child sees how much you value their hard work. It’s natural for their practise tank to run low; they only spend thirty minutes of the week receiving one-on-one encouragement from their teacher and the rest of the week it’s up to them to keep it going. So pick a few of these ideas, give them a try and watch your child’s confidence soar.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.