Simply attending piano lessons on a weekly basis is not sufficient to learn to play a musical instrument. At all stages, from new beginner through to intermediate and advanced stages, there are many things to learn and master, and if these concepts and skills are not reinforced at home in between lessons students will NOT advance.
Sending a student to lessons but not assisting or ensuring that your child is practising at home is a waste of your time and money. If I have to keep going over the same ground with students because they don’t remember what we did the week before, they very quickly become bored and lose interest.
However, making music practise a regular part of the daily routine (especially first thing in the morning!) will help your child to a develop a healthy and positive relationship with the piano as they master new skills and build up their ability to play songs they enjoy.
How long should students practise?
Beginner students should practice songs from their lesson books and any additional warms ups given for a minimum of 20 minutes per day, at least 5 times a week.
To encourage practise, I am using the Better Practice App, which is web-based so can be used on any device or computer. You can read more about what the Better Practice App offers to students; I find those who do use it practise longer and more effectively than those who don’t, which helps progress quicker during lessons.
I may also assign theory worksheets or pages / chapter from their theory workbook to be done at home to reinforce concepts learned during the lesson. These should be completed during their practise session at home.
Once students start preparing for exams, practise time of required technical work and repertoire needs to increase to a minimum of 30 minutes daily in the earlier grades, and will continue to increase with the needs of higher grades.
How should students practise?
I take notes in MyMusicStaff detailing what we are working on and what needs to be done at home, which are emailed at the end of each lesson (you can also log in via the Student Portal to access these notes).
For younger students / beginners who are not yet used to practising, please sit with them (even if you have no music knowledge yourself!) and ask them to show you how they play each of their songs.
- If you haven’t sat in on their lesson, a good way to encourage them to practise is to ask them “What did you learn this week? Can you show me?”
- If you aren’t musical, ask them to try to teach you what they have learned! Have a go yourself, and then ask them to do it again – taking it in turns to play a song or exercise can make practise fun for them, and will encourage them to sit at the piano for longer.
- As a general guide, please ask them to play each song confidently 3-4 times, going through each of the elements listed in the notes I have sent.
- If their song has been assigned in Piano Maestro, they can play along with it there, and it will give them feedback on what is not correct. They should aim to get all 3 stars in the song for it to be “mastered”.
As students progress to harder harder songs, how they practise will change (see practise plan).