The beginning of a new school year is the perfect time to refresh music habits and prepare for a great year of music study. Implement these five stragegies into your toolbox this year and watch your child grow rapidly!
1. Establish a Practice Routine.
Hands down, no questions, if you do one new thing this year for your chid’s musical success, do this. A good practice routine is not only essential to your child’s musical growth – it might also be essential to your sanity as a piano parent.
As with all parenting routines, it takes some time and patience to lay the foundation, but having a practice routine in place will save you so many headaches and power struggles down the road. There are tons of ways to implement a good practice routine, but my favorite is so simple: just count it as a part of your child’s homework routine. Every day, five days a week, plus a little refresh session on one weekend day.
If this model doesn’t work for you, that’s okay. Find something that works for your family’s schedule, and stick to it. 4-5 days of dedicated practice per week is perfectly acceptable.
2. Come – and Leave – Prepared
Simple but essential (and really detrimental if this is a reguarly lacking component)
Come with all the books. Leave with all the books.
It’s the rush out the door that makes this difficult. No one PLANS to come unprepared, but it happens to everyone from time to time. If missing books are habitual, though, it’s time to put some deliberate plans in place. My favorite strategy to make this happen is just to get a simple tote bag, and have your child store his/her books and materials in the bag all week long. Ask your student to double-check the bag before leaving FOR lessons and FROM lessons to make sure everything is there. These little 15-second conversations will save you so much time and energy. Read: No returning to the studio to pick up left behind books, no more wondering where that binder disappeared to.
*PRO TIP* Families with dual households often find it helpful to have two sets of books – one set for mom’s house, one for dad’s. This has been really helpful for many families I’ve known, and it’s a great way to take one piece of the hassle out of the equation.
3. Schedule Wisely
Our yearly studio calendar will be sent home with your child on the first day of lessons. Mark your personal calendars right away, along with any other extra-curricular activities.
Remember, if you need to cancel a lesson, you can do this simply and easily by logging onto the portal at www.harrellmusic.com/login. This is the easiest way to let me know you will not be present at a lesson, and the only way to receive a make-up credit. If you need to sign up for a make-up masterclass, you will also be able to register through the portal.
4. Participate in Practice
This is one of the most neglected, but most important aspects of helping your young musician succeed. Practice time is often difficult for parents, particularly those who may not read music or play an instrument – but it doesn’t have to be hard. Simply keep your ears open. If you hear something that sounds “off”, don’t be afraid to mention it.
If you don’t read music, say, “I can tell something is bothering you about the way this sounds – what does Mrs. Kelsey ask you to do when a mistake like this happens?”
If you read or play, try to prompt your child with questions (“Where do you need to set your hands for this?” or “Which dynamic level should you be playing at”) rather than directive statments like “Set up in C position”. This helps your child to develop independence at the piano.
Talk to other parents with young musicians. A great place to start is by talking to other parents in the studio. Looking for a place to connect? Try our studio Facebook page. (www.facebook.com/harrellmusicrva) Or, better yet, strike up a conversation with another parent in between lessons, at a recital, or while dropping off your child at a masterclass. We’re all in this together, and bouncing ideas off another piano parent can be invaluable when navigating these waters.
I’m looking forward to a great year together!