I run every single day of my life… no exceptions. And while I’d like to say it’s for the joy of running, to be honest, it’s more about the joy of eating. Running every day means I can eat whatever I want; until Christmas rolls around. Then all… heck… breaks loose. Between eggnog, gingerbread, and turkey dinners no amount of running is going to keep my belt from gouging into my belly.
So come January, along with everyone else in the world, I board the diet train and get back into shape. And as I get older and wiser, I’m able to stay on the diet train longer and longer thanks to a few little secrets that (as you may have already guessed) align themselves really well with piano practice.
What healthy eating can teach us about piano practice
Like dieting, many piano students tend to yo-yo when it comes to piano practice. Sometimes they are motivated, inspired, and practicing every day, while at other times weeks pass without a finger striking a key. If you happen to have a few yo-yo’s in your piano studio, considering the following sound dieting advice.
1. Keep your eye on the prize
Kids who practice well, like adults who eat well, keep themselves motivated by continually focusing on where they want to be, not where they are at. Encourage your piano students to watch their favorite musical artists on youtube, attend symphonies or concerts and sit and observe or maybe even play a duet with older students in your piano studio. If they don’t know where they’re going they won’t be willing to put in the effort to get there.
2. Binging is good… but only for a day
If you’ve been a yo-yo dieter in the past, you know going cold turkey on goodies and junk food works for a while… until you cave… at which point the flood gates let loose and the diet is over. The same goes for piano practice. But we can reinforce the flood gates for our piano students by encouraging them to schedule a flex day once a week. This is a predetermined day when no piano practice needs to happen. Give it a try and I bet you’ll be surprised by the results.
3. If present, temptation will win
Just like an all-you-can-eat buffet spells disaster for a diet plan, play dates, sports practice, and drama classes spell disaster for piano practice. So, to avoid the temptations of afternoon activities, encourage your piano students to set aside regular practice times before school or before bedtime when it is unlikely they’ll feel be distracted by the next exciting thing in their busy schedules.
4. Don’t diet, errrr…. Practice alone
People who stick with a healthy eating plan know that a good buddy is essential, but that good buddy shouldn’t be a spouse (the last thing anyone needs is their husband or wife fixated on their waistline!) Having someone to keep you in check is important for piano kids to. So, be sure to keep your kids motivated with regular piano practice incentives. And be sure these incentives are visual so students can track their practice and that of their peers (but do be careful of unhealthy competition).
5. If it’s not fun, nobody wins
Part of my healthy eating plan is my exercise plan: my daily running. But there’s no way I could run every single day if I didn’t enjoy it; which is why most of my runs are spent on trails in the bush, running through mud, jumping over felled trees, crossing rope bridges, and climbing steep rock faces. It means my daily runs are never mundane.
The same should go for your piano students practice sessions. Whether they’re having a blast with your newest practice incentive, a funky lead sheet, or activities from our resource Shhhh… Your Piano Teacher Thinks This Is Practice, making practice fun means practice WILL happen… consistently.
You’re All Set
With these five tips in mind, feel free to put on your loose-waisted sweats, and show that turkey dinner who’s boss. Oh… and don’t forget to share these practice tips with your piano kids, because that’s what this article was about… right?