After you sign your child up with piano lessons, what else should you do? Now, you can imagine your child performing in recitals, competitions, playing the birthday song on your birthday. Do you think these will naturally happen? Here are the roles I think parents should take for their child’s piano study.
1. As a facilitator
I hate to say this, but as parents, you have to make your children practice the piano. Rarely any child will do homework without being asked, rarely will a child practice piano all by him/herself, especially if your child learns piano at a very young age. The student would probably practice without parents asking for a few days, but after a while he/she would choose to watch TV or play on their tablets. You as parents have to make sure, especially at the beginning of your child's piano study that he/she establishes a practice routine, for example, 15 minutes practice every weekday before dinner.
2. As a Cheerleader
As teachers, we can motivate the student with prizes, fun songs to learn, exciting technologies to use that goes along with the lesson, but we don’t get to see the student as often as the parents do, and we don’t know your child as much as you parents do. You, as parents, have to give your children motivation to practice at home. We often say intrinsic motivation is sufficient and we expect the children to just practice because they like it. As adults, how many of us will work for no pay? Not only do children have to see that practicing makes you happy, they also want to see if they can get something out of it. My own daughter really likes ice cream. The only time she can get ice cream is after she practices. My husband and I have made her work for the ice cream since she was 4.
3. As a Supervisor
When a child first learned to play piano, he/she may not know what practice really means. The child probably only practices every piece the teacher assigned one time and think he/she did a sufficient job. The truth is, if the child only practiced the piece one time, he/she is still pretty much in the sight- reading stage for the following lesson. It is important that both students and parents find out from their piano teacher what piano practice means and what approach they need to do in practicing.
4. As a Coach
There are going to be ups and downs in any type of learning. The little bumps in learning help push the students to mature. Sometimes, the teacher has to discuss with the student about his/her practice habits and approaches. Maybe the student practiced but still his/her playing didn’t show any improvement. After a discussion with the teacher, the student may feel frustrated and want to quit lessons. If the parents give in and allow their child to quit lessons, the child may perceive the idea that quitting is okay. Often, a child who quits piano lessons also quits other lessons like swimming, gymnastics, or dance. It is always better to make sure a child quits lessons for a healthy reason. Timing must also be taken into consideration for quitting, at the end of the semester for example, the end of the school year or after challenges have been conquered.
5. As a Fan
It is extremely rewarding for students to know the parents love hearing them play the piano. You as parents must show an interest in listening to your children playing the piano. When I was young, my mom always requested me to play the piano while she was relaxing. She always urged me to play the piano in front of house visitors. She was very proud of me, and that highly motivated me to practice in order to be a better pianist.