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Kids Piano Games That Lead To Practicing

 

 

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KIDS PIANO GAMES THAT LEAD TO "PRACTICING"

A piano teacher is faced with a difficult choice. Much like a prison warden, you have to decide whether to be strict about practicing and risk rebellion, or devise other methods to get the child to repeat the piece and keep peace in the barracks.

The strict warden approach is laden with drawbacks and is, in my opinion, suitable only for people who have decided to take up the piano seriously.

And a child of six does not take up the piano seriously. So don't expect them to practice.

In fact, a better approach is to never mention practicing. You can say, "Play that song over a few times before I see you again." If it's a song the child likes, it might happen. 

The only game I have found that works is to totally discard feelings of resentment about not practicing.

In fact, expect them not to practice. Don't say, "Don't practice." 

But most likely they won't, and you'll save yourself and the student a lot of needless stress if you assume that and move on from there.

If a child assumes you will help them even when they don't "practice," they will be more open to trying things during the lesson.

Yes, this amounts to practicing during the lesson, but the point is that I have taken a multitude of kids through that stage, and seen them come out on the other end with skills and the desire to practice. All because I didn't insist they practice. I always appear amused when they don't practice, and I never ever ask if they have because I know the likely answer.

This is, of course, piano heresy to piano pedagogues from Shanghai to Steinway Hall. The standard view is that a child must be forced to practice or they won't assimilate all the skills needed to be Vladimir Horowitz . 

The view is that, even if such forced practice makes the child quit, it is still needed and important. That view is not piano heresy, of course, but it is insane. That's why nine out of ten kids quit, and that's why pianos are being dumped in landfills. 

You want a future for the piano and piano music? Then you better start finding ways for people to enjoy the piano in the present day, on their own terms.

So the game I play is to have them "practice" while they are at the lesson. And it is fun for them, because I disguise it so skillfully that the kid never knows it's work because it seems like play.

Instead of it being a rote experience, they learn HOW to practice, and as they get better at a piece and feel good about it, they begin to realize WHY we practice.

So before you ask a child to practice, make sure they know what you are talking about, and have experienced practicing in a way (with you) that eventually teaches them HOW and WHY to practice. It takes years.

A large part of the lesson is finding WHAT part of the piece to practice. I never let a kid play a piece all the way through unless we have decided to give it a run-through. Unless it's a run-through, we are picking it apart, laughing at the hard bits while we try to figure them out.

I am always aware of the fatigue factor in playing this game.

You have to know when enough is enough, and that is usually when their eyeballs start to do circles. 

By John Aschenbrenner Copyright 2012 Walden Pond Press All Rights Reserved

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Piano Lessons: A Child's Point of View

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THE COMPLETE BOOK PACKAGE: 

1. 107 page illustrated THE CHRISTMAS CAROL KIT Book with 44 songs, Play Along Audio CD, and removable stickers   

2. 120 page illustrated PIANO IS EASY Book with 50 songs, Play Along Audio CD, and removable stickers 

3. 50 page I CAN READ MUSIC Book 

4. 132 page TEACH YOURSELF PIANO STEP BY STEP Book, 56 minute DVD Video and removable stickers 

5. 141 page THE BIG BOOK OF SONGS BY NUMBER Book with 130 songs, and removable stickers 

6. 88 page EASY CLASSICAL PIANO BY NUMBER Book with 10 songs, and removable stickers, and 29 minute Play Along Audio CD 

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