How To Practice Piano for Kids
Perhaps the greatest secret of getting kids to practice piano is the choice of song. If a child loves a song, they will play it over and over again. This is practicing, in a childish sense. If a child hates or does not like a song, you may as well serve broccoli to a kid who hates it.
They won’t eat it willingly and will take away only anger from the experience. Aside from a clever choice of song to practice, is there a way to have a practice regime that kids can follow? The answer is yes, if you can get them to understand it.
Learn How To Practice
The problem is that children haven’t the faintest idea of how to efficiently repeat sections of pieces to learn them. The best way to learn to practice the piano is by example. Many piano lessons are in essence practice sessions, run by me. I select the offending bit or passage and we work it.
We might work one hand. Then we might try it slower. Sometimes we repeat it until I see the fatigue on the horizon. We select a second bit and work on that. When I see the fatigue, we go back and try to lace together the bits from the beginning as best we can. If they are really bored, we drop it and come back later, or go back to just the first bit.
The Song Is The Goal
The example we are setting is that of a happy explorer, discovering parts and refining them slowly, carefully. It’s not drudgery: it’s careful work toward a tangible goal, a song the child loves. I firmly believe in practicing in this way with kids during the lesson. If they have no example of practicing, how can they be expected to do it by themselves?
Steps To Practicing
Below are a few abstract steps that will give you an idea of the process the child must understand, even dimly. Getting kids to do it is dependent on age, interest and temperament.
- Choose a small section of a piece, even a few notes. Try that bit with one hand. Play it again three times.
- Now play it again much, much slower.
- Play it again three times.
- Select another bit and repeat 2 and 3 above with it.
- Now try to add bit one to bit two.
- Try three times.
If you mess it up, start at step one again. Run through steps 1-6 a total of two times. Now take a break for a few minutes. Even step 1 is fraught with difficulty. Which finger on which note, where, when, how? To a child, the six steps are exhausting unless they love the song.
Spoon Feed The Song
There is great complexity in properly practicing even a tiny group of notes at the piano. You have to spoon feed the child habits like concentration, resting, observation and patience. Only if they love the song will they undergo this process. Show the child how to practice by example during the lesson. Use a song the child loves. The hardest part is finding the song that they want to play.