Any suggestions for encouraging practice?

(77 Posts)
Molehillmountain Thu 22-Nov-12 09:45:45

Dd is seven and in her first term of piano lessons. She loves being able to play but the delayed gratification bit is hard and I really don't want practice to become a battle ground. At the same time, I wish my parents had been a bit more pro active in encouraging me to practise when I was younger. Where's the balance? Dd procrastinates but once you get her going she practises well and makes progress.

shriekingnora Thu 22-Nov-12 10:01:12

Chart and rewards? I know a piano teacher who bribes her children with Celebrations! They all do it and are making excellent progress.

DewDr0p Thu 22-Nov-12 10:05:13

What time of day do you currently encourage her to practise OP? We gave up on after school and now get ds to do 10 mins before school each morning. It's become part of the routine - breakfast, brush teeth, shoes on, piano.

With a slightly longer practise session at the weekend this is really paying dividends.

Molehillmountain Thu 22-Nov-12 10:06:15

That makes me feel a bit better! In my heart of hearts I know she's rewards motivated but I sort of feel she should do it for the love of it. I am similar to her though. This morning I "encouraged " wink her to practise using chocolate pudding as an incentive (not for breakfast!). Think we'll set up a chart. I think practice is quite far removed from the ultimate reward of getting good at playing and the good feeling that comes from that.

Molehillmountain Thu 22-Nov-12 10:08:43

It works better in the morning-I just need to get to the point where it can be done without moans. Ten mins might be more realistic-her teacher wants fifteen but I think ten a day of actual practice would do more for her playing and levels of enjoyment.

ByTheWay1 Thu 22-Nov-12 10:09:53

Mine do like to practise - but only because it is also full on mum time.

When they are young they need to be watched when they practise anyhow and if they are being stretched by their pieces they need advice and it helps if I am there - our piano teacher likes parents to sit in on the lesson till the kids are 10 anyhow so they can help out in between lessons...

AuntAda Thu 22-Nov-12 10:17:40

At that age you need to do it with them, ie sitting right next to them and encouraging/helping/pointing out mistakes. It takes practice to learn how to practise, if that makes sense.

Do it at the same time every day, in the mornings often works better than after school, if you can manage that. And bribery, bribery. You can tie it into pocket money, for eg. 10p a practice, plus a bonus if they do a whole week without missing any days. Or star chart, or whatever works for you.

Molehillmountain Thu 22-Nov-12 10:17:49

Full on mum time here too-although I'm am blush that the reason I'm asking advice is that I have been cross the last couple of mornings which makes the mum time less of an incentive. A friend said that we should just stop lessons but I think that this isn't the answer - getting a good routine and good feeling about practice might be.

Molehillmountain Thu 22-Nov-12 10:18:25

Rewards! Thanks for the permission smile

Lancelottie Thu 22-Nov-12 10:20:34

Yup, bribery. 10p per practice here in the early years. They forget about the money after a bit (or I do) and start getting embarrassed that the teacher can spot when they haven't practised.

MoreBeta Thu 22-Nov-12 10:22:40

I let DS2 drop piano after a year because he just wasn't motivated enough. However, just this year though he came home and said he wanted to audition for the Cathedral choir on his own initiative and he did and got in. He loves it now and is highly motivated. I do think that driving a child through piano practice really is a thankless task and not worth it in the end.

DS1 still does piano but he let his practice slide badly over summer and in the end I told him if he practiced hard and did his Grade 3 exam in December (2 weeks from now) he could drop it and never go back. We sat down and worked out a realistic timetable to get through all the material by the exam date. He just had no idea how much he had to do. We agreed 20 minutes practice morning and night for 3 months as he was so far behind - he is age 12.

AuntAda Thu 22-Nov-12 10:27:23

It needs to become part of their routine, something they just do, like homework, or reading aloud or toothbrushing or bedroom tidying. Once you've established that eg. 8am is practice time it's much easier to put into practice because they don't really argue as they don't know any different iyswim.

But yes, incentivisation is good, as the first year of learning any instrument (violin eg MUCH worse for this) is a bit of a slog. Think of it as the musical equivalent of, "Oh no, said Biff. Oh no, said Chip. Oh no, said everyone. The magic key began to glow..."

Once they get past that stage and realise that they can take those raw materials and use them for new and fun things, then it takes on a whole different dimension. But you do need to get through that first year or so. Conversely, there is no point at all in paying for lessons if they don't practise, you might as well just set fire to a bunch of £20 notes. They won't make progress, they won't enjoy lessons, and the whole thing is a waste of everyone's time and money.

Nothingtosay Thu 22-Nov-12 10:35:58

I'd involve technology in this.
Tell her you can hear a vast difference in her playing already in just one term and you are very proud.
Tell her you want to share all her success with a faraway grandparent or relative. You have an idea. You are going to record her on your phone/ iPad once a month and send it to Granny/faraway relative. Then if you can stick with it for three months or so let her hear the difference in her playing ability.
At her stage there will be significant progress.

Lancelottie Thu 22-Nov-12 11:14:18

Nothing, that is a really good idea. We accidentally did this by videoing DS2 and his wretched euphonium when he was seven, and it's lovely to look back on*. He's so small relative to the instrument, and trying so hard.

*Note that I don't say it's lovely to listen to!

Nothingtosay Thu 22-Nov-12 11:53:02

Lancelottie grin agreed early days can be very trying...

pianomama Thu 22-Nov-12 13:28:32

Bribery , exactly. I honestly don't know any child that age who would be practicing withot encouragement.They all love fiddling on the piano but dont want to practice. Before school routine worked wery well for DS at that age.

Bramshott Thu 22-Nov-12 13:32:34

I think they go in fits and starts with it. DD1 is 9 and is really into piano at the moment, but has to be nagged to practise the clarinet (previously it was the other way round). It helps that her teacher has told her specifically how much practise is the minimum she wants (4 x 15 mins a week) so we plan for that.

Molehillmountain Thu 22-Nov-12 15:43:34

I agree with the fiddling! Any incentive scheme here will involve deductions every time I hear "Mary had a little lamb" or frere jaques smile

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 22-Nov-12 15:54:59

Earn computer time - 1 minute for every minute of practice. Works for us. A bit of moaning in the beginning but after a while it was obvious that progress was made and now practice is not too traumatic. We also do the Super Mario Bros analogy - if you don't practise to the point of the half-way mark then next time it will be like starting from scratch. DC seems to click with that one. smile

3b1g Thu 22-Nov-12 16:05:01

To start with, ours earned computer time too. 10 minutes of practice = ten minutes on Moshi Monsters or whatever the current favourite is. Now they have got into a routine, I no longer need to bribe any of them directly, but I do expect them to do music practice before watching TV or using computer for non-homework stuff.

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 22-Nov-12 16:06:35

3b1g - that's reassuring. I told DC that the minute they can self-regulate we will stop all this restrictions. I do hope the day will come.

Molehillmountain Thu 22-Nov-12 16:35:42

Ah-even more relieved. Dh lets her have the same number of mins on his iPad as practice done when she does it with him. So I will continue to support him (and not disagree as I was inclined to before this thread wink)

flussymummy Thu 22-Nov-12 20:09:12

I'm all for morning sessions too. If it becomes part of the routine they'll just do it without much thought and it frees up time for relaxing/playing/homework later on when they are tired. I did 20 mins every morning from age 7 and quite often played piano for fun in the evenings because the "work" had already been done that day.

somanymiles Thu 22-Nov-12 20:21:50

Routine, 10 mins a day should be fine. I always told my DS and DD I was happy to pay for music lessons as long as they practiced but if they didn't, or if I had to nag them, then lessons would be over at the end of term. Has worked fine. (I am a piano teacher btw.) The practice really is crucial or she won't make any progress.

If she is really reluctant to practice it could be that she likes music but is on the wrong instrument? DD went through violin and cello before she discovered the flute, and DS went through piano and pipe organ (I know!) before finding the sax.

Molehillmountain Fri 23-Nov-12 08:48:45

Bless the music co ordinator at dd's school. Dropped dd for her piano lesson this morning and just caught her and asked if she felt it was normal to find practising a bit tough to start with (of course I knew it really, thank you mumsnet smile). She smiled, rolled her eyes and said "to begin with? I find it tough with my sixteen year old! You're doing so well if you're getting dd to practise at all!" I walked out an inch taller. What with that and all your help yesterday I feel it's doable. And I'm going to buy a moshi for dd today.

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