As a piano teacher, I know how important it is for your child to put in those minutes (hours even) of practice.
As a mother, I know how hard it can be to get your child to practice.
I've heard every excuse — it's lame, I hate piano, I'll do it after school, I'll do it in the morning — statements often accompanied by eye-rolls and the occasional meltdown. Hopefully, these tips will help you and your child make this process easier and even enjoyable!
Make it part of the daily routine
Daily practice should be a part of your child's routine just like eating breakfast or getting dressed. I have found that the most productive time for my children to practice is before school. That means waking up a half hour earlier than needed, but we are all happier when practice is done and out of the way. Find a time (the same time) in your daily schedule to fit practice in.
Don't give in to discouragement or frustration
Practicing won't always be an easy and exciting process. Children get discouraged. Try not to get frustrated with them. Let them take a step back — maybe a 5 minute break — to calm themselves and prepare for the rest of practice. I have found that, when I let my emotions rise, it always ends in a tantrum from my child (as well as from me).
Let your child "play" instead of "practice."
The other day, my daughter found a composition notebook next to our piano. She spent the entire morning writing her own music. This was the first time I had seen her actually excited about playing the piano. If writing music isn't your child's niche, let her decide what she would like to do: playing by ear, playing old/passed-off songs, etc. You could even ask her piano teacher to let her pick any song she wants as part of her daily practice.
Be involved and be excited
Sit down with your child once a week during practice time. Read the teacher's instructions. Know what is expected of your child. This can be done even if you know nothing about music. Talk to your child about her goals, long-term and short-term. Get excited with every step of progress she makes. Show her how happy it makes you when she practices, and always praise her.
If you are above bribes, you must not be a parent. Seriously, sometimes the only way to get children to practice is to bribe them. Would they love a weekly trip for an ice cream cone? A family movie night? Your options are endless. Just be sure you always make good on your promises!