Part 3 – Guiding Your Child or Teenager Through Their Practice

 In Buying a piano

Now that you’ve got the right instrument for your child and they’ve started lessons with a great teacher, the real journey begins!

‘Just practice what the teacher told you to practice!’this is a common sentiment, and not bad advice in and of itself – your child should always be practicing the material set for them by the teacher however, aside from teaching your child new skills and technique, a big part of the music teacher’s role is to guide their students through their practice.

You see, knowing HOW to practice, is just as important as knowing WHAT to practice. This is where you can also help at home.

Unlike needing to understand complicated equations to help your kids with their math homework, you will be able to help with their piano practice without ever needing to play a single note.

Here are a three issues to be aware of:

#1: Playing too fast

Playing fast is cool and fun, so a lot of students can’t resist the temptation to play at a high speed. The problem is, they often haven’t mastered the song they’re learning at a slower tempo. It’s common to hear a younger student fumble their way through excitedly. They’re playing fast – but they’re not playing well.

Have you ever heard a very skilled piano player? The way they glide their fingers up and down the keys so effortlessly with perfect timing and precision – that comes from years of slow, measured practice. You can’t run until you can walk.

How you can help:

Make sure you know how to use and access the metronome – encourage your child to practice at an appropriate tempo as set by the teacher. Roland’s HP and LX range have their metronome buttons easily accessible. Many Yamaha digital models have a user friendly interactive app called ‘Smart Pianist’ to control the metronome, amongst many other features.

#2 – ‘Practice is Boring’.

Learning an instrument should be challenging,rewarding, and enjoyable. Whilst learning any skill that requires practice and concentration isn’t going to be fun 100% of the time – it is important that there are moments set aside just for fun and creativity.

How you can help:

Once the material set by the teacher has been practiced for the day, there is no reason to discourage your child from exploring their creativity.

The Roland FP10 has an inbuilt jazz singing voice which a lot of kids find enjoyable. Both the Yamaha P125 and Roland F140 have built in rhythms which often provide a lot of fun.

#3 – There’s no time to practice

Life is busy. Between homework, family commitments, and extracurricular activities, it’s easy to let piano practice slip.

Fifteen minutes of practice five times a week is better than two hours once a week. Like anything that requires concentration, getting started is always the hardest part.

How you can help:

Make sure the piano is set up in a nice tidy area of the house where it looks inviting. If you have a portable model, never pack it down at night.

Keyboards are designed slimmer than ever so if space is an issue, Casio’s PXS1000 is a good option – it gained an award at the world’s largest trade show (NAMM) in 2012 for its sleek design.

In a cabinet model, the Yamaha YDPS54 and YDPS34 have a multi purpose design – they can be used as a desk when the lid is down. The Roland F140 features a slimline design that is aesthetically pleasing.

For a more traditional design, the Kawai CA59, Roland LX706, and Yamaha CLP745 are just some of the models that offer a superior playing experience at the fraction of the size of an acoustic piano.

More information on products mentioned, including videos, can be accessed by clicking the product links

Has anyone encountered these issues? Do you have any suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comments!

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