HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS TO HELP WITH PRACTICE TIME
Enforce a consistent schedule, but let your child be part of creating that schedule. Have him/her plan out the practice schedule ahead of time and then hold him/her accountable to it. Make it part of their normal routine. Some kids like to practice right before bed, so make it part of their bedtime routine. They eat dinner, bathe, put their PJs on, and then practice piano. After that is reading and lights out. Some kids are more productive right after school. Whatever is your child’s optimal practicing time, make it part of their routine. Soon, it will be a natural habit…just like brushing teeth.
Provide incentives and rewards. Note that rewards are different than bribes. A bribe tells them that if they do this, then you’ll give them that. A reward is acknowledging what they’ve already done. For example, maybe each time they practice, they get to put a dime in the music jar. When the jar is filled, they may use that money to buy a new music book.
Use a timer and enforce a daily consistent time length. Many of the parents of my most successful students use a timer to make sure their child gets in enough practice. Try to find a silent timer (without the constant clicking noise) and set it at the proper time length. This is a great way to add structure to each daily practice session. Go over their practice schedule prior to a practice session and explain that they must play the practice schedule repeatedly until the timer runs out.
Use consequences. Set rules that they must practice before they engage in their favorite activities. Every child has something they normally get to do that they get excited about, it could be going out to play with friends or getting to watch their favorite TV shows. Set rules so that they know if they don't practice before the TV show or before they go out with their friends, they will have to miss out.
Give praise and encourage opportunities for performances. People thrive on attention. The more praise you give the more your children will be excited about their piano skills and inspired to practice. Praise gives them a sense of accomplishment and lets them know all this hard work is really paying off. it is also important for each student to receive praise from people other than Mom and Dad. Children often assume their parents HAVE to praise them and are biased, so outside praise helps to solidify their sense of achievement. Have them play for friends and family who are visiting your house or arrange for them to play at the school talent show. When a student feels the thrill of playing for an audience and hearing their praises it can propel them forward and inspire them in ways you wouldn't believe.
Make practice more fun and reward hard work. When possible, the music should be the reward, but this will likely not be enough to keep a young child motivated. You know your child best. Think of what delights him/her and introduce in it some way into a practice session.
• Hold several small concerts each week…for a parent, neighbor, friends, or some favorite stuffed animals.
• Video record a practice session and let them watch it.
• Hold an impromptu performance. Make up some programs and have each person take notes of a few things they liked.
• Have a puzzle where the child can place on piece of the puzzle after the completion of each assignment.
• Play Simon Says.
• Roll a die for the number of repetitions. A 1 means roll again, and a 6 means the parent can choose any number from 2-5.
• Divide a piece into 5 sections. Roll a die to see which section to practice. (Do this several times.) A 6 means the whole piece should be performed.
• Create a grab bag with the names of pieces, or parts of pieces, and other assignments. Include a few fun surprises.
• Have your child guess the next song to practice by clapping the rhythm or playing/singing the first note.
• Use M&Ms or pom poms to fill a happy jar. They earn one M&M for each assignment they complete without complaining. They can eat the M&Ms at the end of the session or keep filling the jar until it is full for several lessons to earn a predetermined prize.
• Write your child's practice assignments on several small pieces of paper. Wrap the pieces of paper around pennies/nickels. The child unwraps the paper, completes the assignment and keeps the coin.