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.

Xenia Fri 23-Nov-12 19:18:00

Xenia lesson of the day....

Verb - doing word - practise (note the s)
Noun - a thing - practice ( c) .

I do the practice. I practise the piano.

Molehillmountain Fri 23-Nov-12 19:34:32

Xenia-you're probably right to say but I think the tone was unhelpful.

Phineyj Fri 23-Nov-12 19:46:04

Dear OP, could you consider another instrument? Piano's so solitary. With most other instruments she could join an orchestra/band and if she's a sociable little girl (or competitive...) that might encourage practice. I am still a rubbish pianist, due to lack of practice for exactly that reason, but my viola and saxophone playing are really quite good and I have been round the world & made loads of friends through music.

Failing that, how about piano duets with friends/you or your DP learn to play too/group piano classes (it is possible -- places like Benslow do courses for children & adults)/introduce a bit of improvisation or composition/take her to see one of the charismatic pianists like Lang Lang (or DVD) to inspire 'I want to be like that'.

Or for Xmas, copies of Sparky's Magic Piano and /or Oscar's Orchestra? (flying grand piano) - not that either of those made me practise either but I still loved them. Basically I am entirely supportive of regular practice to improve at music (it's supposed to take 10,000 hours isn't it, for true competence?) but first you need the motivation!

Molehillmountain Fri 23-Nov-12 20:09:16

Phiney j definitely get the argument for another instrument-I played French horn and it opened up a world of bands and instruments. I can see another instrument in the future-in fact she's learning recorder although less formally-but I do think piano gives a good grounding and teaches them to read both treble and bass clef from the off. Although this is not why dd is learning the piano, I wish that I had had at least a year or two of piano when I was quite young because later on with the horn, I was a low player who had to work out all bass clef notes-I was never a fluent bass clef reader. I'd love dd to join a band or orchestra, or take up goat herding if that's what takes her fancy later. I hadn't thought of it this way until a previous poster said it but I guess deep down I see reading music and playing as a skill to be taught young so they can decide later if they love it passionately and want it to be a long term hobby. Like reading words. I'm not a big reader now but I had the tools to give me the choice to be.

Molehillmountain Fri 23-Nov-12 20:10:44

And yes to both competitive and sociable. Both helpful in their way - although the competitive bit still needs taming wink

Phineyj Fri 23-Nov-12 20:24:48

LOL Molehillmountain, competitive, sociable and needs taming - surely the trumpet beckons later on?! I agree about the skills part and starting young. I just personally never got on with the piano. I don't remember learning to read music but I understand it is a real pain to have to do so as an adult when you just want to play - that's definitely a good point.

Phineyj Fri 23-Nov-12 20:25:09

Oops apparently that's the shortcut for italics not bold. Oh well...

Molehillmountain Fri 23-Nov-12 20:54:14

She is destined to play brass - just delaying the inevitable grin.

Molehillmountain Fri 23-Nov-12 21:00:38

Btw, I talked to dd about it at bedtime, how I was proud of what she was doing but that I wasn't enjoying her being grumpy about starting practice. Also about how she felt when a piece came under her fingers as the one for this week had. She likes the idea of a sticker chart with a reward for a sticker each day and I think dh can just carry on with the iPad thing too. We're going to get stickers tomorrow.

3bunnies Sat 24-Nov-12 07:48:49

An alternative I read about somewhere was using a chocolate advent callendar - 44p in Lidl, one a day, instant reward!

If she def wants to play different instrument, why not let her, keep the piano for fun at the moment. Dh had to learn violin, but wanted to learn piano, he sabotaged the concert he did at school by playing in the worst possible way, parents finally agreed to let him stop, but refused to let him learn piano (although they did have one). Dd1 loves piano, she's also 7 and loves to practise. Dd2 has decided that bass is her instrument (like dh), though she does like to try piano and we will offer her lessons when she is older.

If you make it too hard for her now she might not want to play any instrument. Our rule is if we're paying for lessons, you need to practise, but if you want to stop lessons, then that's fine and cheaper !

Xenia Sat 24-Nov-12 07:55:02

I don't do rewards and rewarding with chocolate is like peddling cocaine in my book but I accept most British parents love to use sugar and foods which damage children as rewards.

Molehillmountain Sat 24-Nov-12 09:59:17

Yes you do Xenia. You lead your children to believe that if they follow your programme they will earn stacks of money in the future.

Xenia Sat 24-Nov-12 10:39:55

I don't think you need money for happiness. I have never suggested you do to the children at all. I have no problems if they want to be contemplative nuns or run a bar in Thailand or whatever. However I do think people are happier when they work for themselves so if they can pick careers which might make that possibly at some point then I would certainly encourage that. One of mine called today who had worked 41 hours without a break or sleep last week. I always say people need a lot of sleep and no one works well if they don't sleep. I encourage people to have balanced lives just as I have done. Music is part of that - it is a huge pleasure. I will often leave my office if the afternoon is fairly quiet like yesterday and go and play the piano and sing for 10 minutes in the room next door.

Sympathique Sat 24-Nov-12 14:56:50

How nice that we're singing in harmony on this thread! MHM's comment in the OP "I wish my parents had been a bit more pro active in encouraging me to practise" is a good reminder why we are right to insist on some things. Absolutely agree that a routine helps. And also parental certainty that practise will be done; I used to do a good act of utter disbelief when it wasn't. Mind you by the time one DD was 18 it was getting her to stop that was the problem so I might have overdone it.

Sympathique Sat 24-Nov-12 14:57:54

And HURRAH for brass. Trombone by any chance?

Molehillmountain Sat 24-Nov-12 15:12:09

Hopefully horn-but only because there's a rather nice one in the loft. wink Practice done before breakfast this morning with minimal moaning-yay!

flussymummy Sat 24-Nov-12 23:34:06

Fantastic!

hardboiled Sun 25-Nov-12 16:16:37

Before breakfast! I salute you Molehill! At that time in our house we are but a bunch of half-asleep semi-humans trying to find our shoes, bags and toothbrushes while swearing vengeance against our alarm clocks which we are convinced are a conspiratory group of lethal androids...

Molehillmountain Sun 25-Nov-12 17:07:17

grin hard boiled. Similar here actually-I think it improves technique!

Molehillmountain Sat 01-Dec-12 09:17:23

Thank you do, so much for all the advice and encouragement. Dd had fab feedback in her lesson this week and has practised every day before school. She did it this morning with just a cursory "but weekends are rest days" but I said that she would be having a treat for doing all seven days. She's also wanting me to stop interfering so much, telling me which the tricky bits are to practise again and starting to listen when I say to put her energy into playing the tricky bits again rather than waving her arms and wailing! I've talked to her about how I used to feel about tricky bits in my pieces and how I still feel about big jobs. And because she's done proper practice in the morning I don't mind how many times she plays blooming "Frere Jacques" and Mary had a blooming lamb in the evening. Sorry to go on but it's been a really good week. grin

Theas18 Sat 01-Dec-12 14:02:04

Umm good luck!

I'm definitely of the you need to do to with them camp at this age. They need to learn to be strict with themselves - not letting mistakes pass be it note, timing or fingering "learning the mistakes" happens so easily and it hard to correct.

I live the minutes on iPad for practice done exchange!

It was several years before we started to get individual practice that was quality time rather than just playing things through.

It's funny how they just assume its normal for a parent to shout " it's an f sharp" or "sharpen the 7th if that's supposed to be a minor scale" from the kitchen though! I'm sure kids that start instrument at 7yrs who don't ave parents with a musical background bpmust find it hard

pianomama Sat 01-Dec-12 21:57:56

Molehill - sounds like you are on the right track! Realy useful thing is to encourage DC to note their particular difficulties and then bring it up with the teacher at the lessons. I think teachers really appreciate that,I.e. -" this week I couldn't figure out this bit - I tried it like so and like so but still struggling and not sure I'm doing it right" . And really discourge comments like "but my dad/mum told me to do it like that!" - doesn't go well with teachers smile

RaspberryLemonPavlova Sat 01-Dec-12 23:51:55

Theas18 mine just had to get on with it, they didn't know any different anyway. They have done OK but they may well have done much better if DH or I had that sort of background.

DS started brass at school at 8, which was our first introduction, and asked to start piano at 10. In the meantime DD started violin at school. However with the piano, the teacher came to our house, DS2, aged 6, heard the lessons and begged and pleaded for them, so he started too. But I sat in on the lessons with him, which has made a huge difference I think, as the teacher explained what was wanted.

The three of them shout at each other now! (In a helpful way), and I even go in and help with a music group in school.

Molehillmountain Sun 02-Dec-12 10:37:02

I would find it so helpful to be in the lessons-or even overhear them. But not quite as helpful as the lessons happening during school time wink

RaspberryLemonPavlova Sun 02-Dec-12 21:52:25

I know what you mean! All the other lessons are school based, but we are also very lucky with the teachers - I know school lessons don't suit everone. And I can contact all their teachers directly which is great. DS2s brass teacher also conducts DDs Youth Orchestra so I see her every week anyway.

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