We all know how to teach piano. But do you know how to teach your piano students to practice? If you’re finding yourself stuck in the never-ending cycle of simply relying on practice minutes per day or number of days practiced per week to determine your students’ success at home, then read on!
Piano Practice 101
A very large portion of your piano lessons should be spent teaching your piano students how to practice. Specifically how to practice the piano effectively. There is a huge difference between practice days logged and efficient practice. And the difference between those two can actually affect the success of your studio!
1. Students who practice every single day, but don’t practice efficiently, will progress slower than students who are efficient practicers. Progressing students are integral to your studio’s success, as progressing students are motivated, and therefore more committed to lessons.
2. Students who practice efficiently enjoy their home piano time much more than students who are simply required to put in the time. Piano practice without specific structure and concrete guidance becomes horribly repetitive and really quite boring.
3. Students who are taught to practice effectively are more confident when learning pieces on their own. Taking ownership over ones own learning is important for piano students; and teaching students to practice well is the first step towards that wonderful moment when they can learn a piece all on their own.
Think Like a Coach When Teaching Piano Students How to Practice
Can you imagine a pro golfer who never worked on his swing, but simply went out and played 18 holes every day? Or a soccer player who never practiced shooting on a net but simply played games and hoped for the best? Athletes know that skill progression relies on carefully planned training. Sure, that golfer and that soccer player will eventually get better – they would improve simply because they’ve put in time; but they would be rapidly passed by their peers who had trained in a more efficient and manner.
So, think like a coach when sending your piano students home to practice and be as detailed as you can. What specific skills are involved in their current piece? How can they develop those skills away from the book? How can they work through any barriers they encounter? What would you like them to do the moment they sit at the piano at home? What would you like them to cognitively understand about what they are playing? How will they demonstrate this understanding to you at your next lesson together? These are just some of the questions that will help you to begin to coach their home practice time.
Try saying “goodbye” to the notion of number of days practiced and instead set your sights on efficiency. It’s a switch that will make a big difference… and rapidly! You’ll find that home practice minutes naturally increase as your piano student becomes invested in the process, and you’ll soon be able to track progress and skill acquisition instead of simply practice days.