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How to sit through piano practice

(28 Posts)
iggly2 Thu 11-Aug-11 09:49:30

Okay I lost it with Ds whilst practising piano (shouted at him which I very rarely do). He is 5 and gets side tracked easily. He will say oh look at this song/tune etc which is further on in the book. I am a bit obsessive in personality (eg do set number of songs set number of times through..) and think I have done my good mother bit if I do this each day (and I stay with him whilst he does it). The fact is I find the practice boring but we don't have much money and his lessons aren't cheap so he should practise. Does anyone else find listening to their child tedious, is there any way to overcome the boredom?

crystalglasses Thu 11-Aug-11 09:58:22

How long is he practicing for? I would think a maximum of 10minutes a day for a 5 year old unless he really want to do it. don't make it a chore for him or he won't enjoy it and want to give up.

iggly2 Thu 11-Aug-11 10:16:43

Probably 10-15 minutes maximum. He loves it (he is upset as he is on school holiday so no lessons with his teacher). I never have to nag him to practice. I know this is me not him at fault.

iggly2 Thu 11-Aug-11 10:17:54

I feel I just like to tick boxes especially during school holidays.

DeWe Thu 11-Aug-11 10:26:32

If he's picking out other tunes to play it sounds like a really good thing to do.
Over the summer we encourage dd1 to find different books and try and play them rather than just the same old boring pieces. Not to say he doesn't need to practice them sometimes, but unless she's working towards an exam the holiday practices are time for her to have fun.

noteventhebestdrummer Thu 11-Aug-11 10:34:12

Make a pratice chart so he knows what to do and can tick things off? Let him explore other stuff at other times, practice time is for using the chart. If you have 6 items on it he can throw a die to choose which number thing to do next (gives the illusion of choice!). For each item ask him a different question that makes him think for himself - what do you learn in this piece? where is this piece loud? where is it smooth? tell me after you played it what it made you think of!
Give honest, specific praise for each item. Hang in there!

Carrotsandcelery Thu 11-Aug-11 10:40:43

It sounds like you need to mix it up a bit to make it more fun for you.

One way our drum teacher taught us was to get ds to teach us. It was great fun, lightened the mood and boosted his ego too.

I know your ds has no problem with it, it is you, but you might enjoy it more that way, taking turns.

The other option is just to walk away. If he is doing it without hassle then why do you have to hassle him? (I don't mean that in a rude aggressive way.)

Once my dd got good enough on her violin I just let her get on with it. I did some ironing or loaded the dishwasher etc. I could still hear her and comment but it made it a bit less intense and I didn't get so wound up.

Good luck with it. It sounds like he gets great pleasure from it and it should, first and foremost, be fun!

Elibean Thu 11-Aug-11 10:42:03

I would add some tick boxes for myself, along the lines of 'tick six boxes per practice for sitting calmly and smiling when I feel anxious and impatient inside' wink

I do sympathise (though not at all a box ticker by nature) its so hard not to get frustrated with piano practice, and yes lessons are very expensive. That said, dd is 7 - not 5 - and her teacher suggested letting her practice for shorter periods twice a day, as she was getting mentally tired/losing patience and concentration after a short time. Its worked beautifully, she now sits down and practices, figures out new pieces, etc for pure pleasure - which was my goal for her smile

iggly2 Thu 11-Aug-11 11:54:13

Wow. Thanks, some great ideas there. I like the dice idea (great as it is usually 6 tunes), also the him teaching me (he loves doing that eg: pointing out what the notes are, saying what little dots on notes mean).

Eilbean yes I think at times I deserve a tick box (homework done, reading done, piano practice, appropriate feeding and watering of child, ensuring lots of sport...!). I think I might initiate a reward system for me with wine andbiscuit.

I guess I like him to do the practice THEN do the extras (eg different tunes he likes or the odd bits of theory in his piano books). He wants to mix it all up! The problem with the tunes later in the book is he has not learnt the notes needed etc. I think as he is only a beginner I feel I have to be there for the practice is he likes having Mummy there and also to check for mistakes.

iggly2 Thu 11-Aug-11 11:55:40

Sorry "as he likes having Mummy there."

strictlovingmum Thu 11-Aug-11 12:02:30

10 to 15 minutes a day, or even every second day is plenty, children fidget a lot a the age of 7, key is to intrigue her more. I f she finds practicing same pieces boring, try and get some different books of same level, good website is;musicroom.com.
Praise, praise,praise, really go overboard with praising and telling her how good she is, try not to shout you will put her off and that is not an idea behind learning a instrument. What grade is she at the moment?

JemimaMuddledUp Thu 11-Aug-11 12:03:40

I sympathise with you. DS1 is a bit older (almost 9) but I find myself nagging at him about his piano practice and I can be a bit anal about making sure he is doing exactly what his teacher says when he wants to be experimenting with other pieces.

His teacher has set him a list of pieces to practice every day over the summer, and he is supposed to practice for half an hour a day. I have told him to run through those pieces twice each time (I come and listen to him on teh second practice) and then spend the rest of the half hour playing pieces of his choice. These might be pieces he has learnt previously, or new ones that he fancies trying. As he is a little bit older he doesn't need me to sit with him the whole time, so I just pop in and out and make appreciative noises at what I hope are the right moments grin If I sat with him the whole time I would just be too stressy about it all and that then stresses him.

DS2 is hopefully starting to learn an instrument when they go back to school in September. I am going to need lots of wine then!

iggly2 Thu 11-Aug-11 12:09:24

Only beginner (no grades). Normally I do give lots of praise, I am just really stressed with my own work at the moment-I am thinking of asking hubby to take over the practice at the moment but we are not a music literate family (I have to learn the stuff before Ds!).

strictlovingmum Thu 11-Aug-11 12:13:16

Oh and also most helpful is not to go through pieces during practice time more then twice, first time is to identify week bars(ones with a lot's of mistakes) and then go through individual bars and try to correct mistakes, once difficult bars start to sound more like it, then child is to repeat the whole piece with everything learnt, it is going to sound a lot better in second playing.
Also this minimises boredom and wrong repetition, hopefully minimises getting used to playing a piece in the wrong way.
Much easier on mums frayed nerves, toowink

stealthsquiggle Thu 11-Aug-11 12:19:21

It's the holidays. I leave my DS (8) to play by himself - and he chooses a combination of working on the pieces and messing around, which is more than fine by me. If I nagged him, it would become a chore - as it is, he does it by himself (has to be dragged off piano when we need to get somewhere hmm) and drives me demented by "practising" on kitchen table, etc (playing imaginary piano). Come to that, I leave DD (4) to practise guitar by herself/with DS as well [bad mother] intervening only when the guitar desperately needs tuning.

however - I am exceptionally lucky in that term-time practice is done (and supervised) at school.

strictlovingmum Thu 11-Aug-11 12:37:53

Try to organise mini home concert for family: you, dad, siblings,nana or anybody who would like to hear, to listen to her playing a piece which she plays very well, once she has performed it, big applause is in order.
This in turn will give huge sense of achievement and drive to practice and learn new pieces and also in a non obvious way will prepare her for grading exams well in advance.
It takes a long time for a child to show true depth of their talent and often it's painstaking for parents, but once brought to surface she will be truly on her way to learn and explore music as a talented young musician, good luck.

Amaretti Thu 11-Aug-11 12:44:24

You don't need to be music literate. I can't read music and DS is past grade 5! Chill out a bit and let him get on with it himself without so much structure.

iggly2 Thu 11-Aug-11 13:41:46

I love the mini concert idea. He does "practising" in his bed on the duvet (when he should be asleep), so I haven't scared him of yet. I like the idea of just practising certain bars. He does get really excited when the tune is suddenly recognisable (they are mainly nursery rhymes). It isn't everyday without fail he practises if we are away etc or I am working a long shift there will be no practise. So I would say it works out as every other day. I do need relax the structure more. Thanks everyone.

iggly2 Thu 11-Aug-11 13:42:52

Sorry spelling "practice".

2BoysTooLoud Thu 11-Aug-11 14:36:46

I imagine 5 minutes is a lot to concentrate on practising for many 5 year old boys!
I have a just 6 year old who is in the very early stages of recorder. He is a fidgeter/ stand on one leg/ lean on everything type of boy. Probably 4 x 5 min practises a week - slow progress but hey ho..
I think he likes the idea of playing the recorder but not the effort. If it becomes too much of a chore we will stop and try again in a few months.
No hurry in my opinion.

2BoysTooLoud Thu 11-Aug-11 14:37:32

oops on my spelling too!!

maree1 Thu 11-Aug-11 16:14:36

At 5 years old let your son do just as much or as little as he wants. A star chart on the fridge and if they do their 15 mins every day then give them a treat if the star target is reached. But a bunch of growing shiny stars works for some kids.

And make sure some appropriate scales are practiced too - not just the tunes. The ability over the years to build knowledge of scales makes for a great foundation. Up and down each scale.

2BoysTooLoud Thu 11-Aug-11 17:16:22

Isn't 15 minutes piano practice a day rather a lot for a 5 year old?
Would be for my 6 year old ds. [Would fidget/ be distracted and probably put him off music at an early age].

Elibean Thu 11-Aug-11 19:15:58

15 minutes in one go is often too much for my 7 yr old dd. She is a beginner, and as such gets frustrated - though its getting a lot better now she's mastered the basics.

But 3 or 4 goes of 2-3 minutes each, she can and does do without a problem. Its slowly building up to longer times without any effort on my part.

iggly2 Fri 12-Aug-11 09:39:52

His concentration span really is not the problem it is mine (I just like things done quickly in order-he wants to do extras eg theory or other pieces). I cannot cope with him doing things out of order as I have not learnt the tunes to check he is doing it correctly. I would be more confident if I knew how to read music. To be fair his teacher says he is great at self correcting "almost teaching himself" so maybe I should leave him to it more. We do no scales as they are not in the piano book and I would not know which fingers to use or which sharps/naturals. The dice idea and mini concerts are great ideas. I am not forcing him to do his practice he enjoys it (mummy occasionally not),I just like him to do what is set. Practice would be far longer if he had the choice.

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