Kids love their video games; they can spend hours and hours playing them. Don’t you wish you could get your kids to apply their fervor for video games to practicing the piano?
Since the invention of the piano, it seems parents have been trying to motivate their children into playing it. We know the benefits to playing music are many: development of creativity, concentration, memory, motor skills and confidence.
Here are a few ways you as a parent can make piano practice more fun for your child.
It’s not practicing: it’s playing.
Sometimes the verb practicing can feel heavy, and can signal to your child that you want them to do “work”. Some kids may feel overwhelmed already by the homework they are given at school.
The next time you want your child to practice piano, why not ask them to play the piano? This simple rephrasing could be a positive way to get your child playing the piano more frequently. Treat the piano like a cool toy that they can play with. It’s a start!
Strike up the band: use play-along backing tracks.
Play-along audio tracks are extremely popular, because they allows your child to feel like they’re playing with a band. They also have the added benefit of improving your child’s rhythm and listening skills, since they have to play along with the song—the music won’t stop for them to catch up.
This can be a really fun way to get your child playing more piano. There are play-along options for lots of pop songs, so your child can play along with the latest Justin Bieber song. (Warning: “Bieber fever” may be a side effect!)
Set goals and give rewards.
Kids love to be rewarded for…well…anything, really! Who doesn’t love rewards?
Depending on the age of the child, a simple sticker can be quite motivating. Teachers use stickers in the classroom because they are inexpensive and effective. They’re also an immediate prize that the child can earn—there’s no waiting period.
Tell your child that if they play for 15 minutes continuously, they will earn a sticker. Long-term goals could be that if they get a certain amount of stickers (by playing the piano regularly for a longer period of time), they will earn a larger prize.
Be creative, and find out what works best for your child to keep them motivated.
Give your child a piano challenge.
Playing the same song over and over, though excellent for mastering the music, can start to get boring. If your child is finding the music too easy, try one of these tricks:
- Have them play a song on the next page of their book—a new song that they must sight-read.
- Have them play the current song from the last note to the first (backward), super-fast or super-slow, to change things up.
- Get them to pretend they are an actor playing a pianist, and to exaggerate the music and their actions as they play the notes. This can be quite hilarious!
Show them how cool the piano can be
Sometimes when playing piano exercises, it’s easy to forget how awesome the piano can be.
Here are two videos you can show your child:
This post was originally published in August 2014.