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Don't Practice, Say "Go Play"

Don't say "Practice," say, "Go play." Someone is going to tell you, "Go practice." Yourself, your mom, you as a mom, your teacher. You'll find out quickly that unless your child has a reason to practice, it's not going to happen on any level other than pulling teeth. There is only one reason to practice, and you better learn it the first day. You will only practice if you love the music.

If your student doesn't love that song, they are not going to play it willingly. Unless you love the song you have been sent to "practice," you might as well call the dentist and ask for a voluntary root-canal. Doesn't your child have a favorite toy or video game? How come you don't have to order them to play it? How come you have to tear them away from the game or toy to come and have dinner? 

Drudgery Or Play
The point is that if you make piano "practice" into drudgery, (usually with the unwitting help of your conventional teacher) your child will soon try to evade "practice." Think of the difference if your child is trying to learn one of their favorite songs. They will be playing it every second they have a chance. There's no "practicing." They just go "play."

So the first objective should be to find a song the child loves. In contrast, conventional teachers always begin immediately the time-honored process of indoctrinating the child into the world of 19th century music theory. There's time enough for music theory, but you need to act immediately to interest the child in the piano on a "child" level. 

Lower The Bar Temporarily
But here's where you will need the help of your teacher or just use your common-sense. Exactly what level is comfortable for your child to approach the piano as a fun experience? The answer is simply, "lower the bar." Find the child's comfort zone and stick to it until they are ready to move further forward.

For example, most kids, on their first lesson, will offer their dominant index finger for every note. Instead of confusing them immediately with "proper" piano fingering, accept their childish way of doing it and see where it leads.

Choose Your Battles
Obviously, they will eventually play with all ten fingers, but why confuse them at the beginning? Take one finger, build it into two, then three, then the whole hand. And you should play these fingering games before the child ever sees a note of music. Let them get the physical idea, then introduce the further complexities.

A child will let you know with their confusion that you are going too fast. Listen to them. Show the child you are never in a hurry for them to "get it." Your job requires almost Biblical patience.

Build On What They Offer
Thus, giving in to their childish fingering may be a viable trade off for their current enthusiasm, leading to a discussion of proper fingering later when they are ready. It's so easy to get above the child's intellectual level without realizing it, because we are adults.

So find that "magic way" that allows the child to play and thrive, accept small suggestions gradually, and be allowed to grow. There is no "set" curriculum in terms of the individual child. The worst habit you can learn at the piano is to not want to play.

PIANO BY NUMBER

We've turned notes into numbers for happy beginners at the piano!

PLAY ALONG SONGS ARE FREE!

Our PLAY ALONG SONGS are produced by Grammy Award winner Joe Castellon of Sesame Street. They're such an important element in making the piano fun for kids!

PLAY FUN & GAMES

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Our books and videos are created by Emmy Award winning composer and leading children's educator John Aschenbrenner. Get your child happily started at the piano!

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