By Jessica Petrus Aird
I'll let you in on a secret: I was absolutely one of these kids. Each week, my mom would drag me to my piano lesson, where my teacher would glare at me in disappointment because, again, I didn't practice. Maybe one song really spoke to me, and I got good at that one. But the scales, technique exercises, and that really challenging one? Often, no.
I understand her approach; she had a disciplined method that worked for many of her students and she stuck by it. Unfortunately, I was just one of those kids with which it didn't really work. I needed a more emotional and creative approach; I needed to first love the music I was playing. I was not really a "10 minutes a day, every day" kind of kid; I did better with less structure. I would go days without practicing (worrying my mother endlessly), but then spend an hour listening, singing, and playing dress-up to all kinds of music in our CD collection. As much as it probably drove my parents crazy, I'm grateful they let me find my own way in piano through various creative expressions. It was through these processes I found the spark to love some of my songs in piano and want to play them.
As you can guess, finding that spark in students can be a real challenge sometimes. My work in private teaching has shown me that the best way to help kids develop a healthy practice habit is to first identify what motivates them naturally. This is where parents' input is invaluable to me. Does your student really enjoy movement? Singing? Patterns? Problem solving? Poetry? Composing? Something else? Let's find a way to build on those natural motivators in their music learning! Below are some ideas.
Find your student's motivators!
Jessica is a voice and piano instructor for Note-worthy Experiences. To learn more about Jess, please visit her Teacher Page.