Many parents ask me what they can do to motivate a student’s progress. Without question, the teacher-student-parent triangle constitutes the team effort necessary for a student’s success. Here are a few suggestions:
- At the first practice of the week, check the assignment notebook to see if the practice techniques suggested at the lesson are being used. (Hands separately, eyes on music, eyes closed, section practice, etc.) Make sure that each part of the assignment is being done. Check again a day or two before the lesson.
- Write a practice time on the family calendar and gently remind the student when it’s time to practice. Let her/him decide what to play first. Encourage the student to stay focused until all parts of the assignment are completed (or divide into two sessions).
- Check to be sure the theory assignment is complete each week.
- Listen for technical work—scales, arpeggios, chords. I usually assign these with the metronome. Metronome practice is required for all intermediate and advanced students.)
- If your student is racing through a piece, ask what his/her goals are for that particular piece that week.
- Avoid making corrections of your own. This may drive you crazy when you keep hearing a wrong note or rhythm, but it’s difficult for a student to learn from two “teachers” at once. Let the student have the chance to make the discovery or allow me make the correction at the next lesson
- Encourage listening to or practicing with the CD.
- Listen enthusiastically to pieces your student enjoys playing (even if you’ve heard them 100 times already!) Create a CD or video of your student to document progress or give as gifts to family members.
- Take your student to concerts! I will let you know of recitals and concerts that may be of interest.
- Listen to piano music in the home. Young students love sonatas or concertos by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, Chopin waltzes, Scott Joplin rags, jazz, etc. Listening is of vital importance to the developing musician.
- Make gifts of music that the student enjoys listening to. A trip to the music store to browse can be fun and motivating (Buy & Sell Center is now on W. 11th and Alder). I welcome music selections brought in by the student.
If you have questions, concerns, or just want to talk about your student’s progress, don’t hesitate to call or email me.
Artistry at the piano takes many years to develop. Be patient if your student is in a slump or doesn’t want to play on every OMTA recital. Keep in mind the big picture. Our role is to observe and encourage music as it finds its way into your student’s life.