Great pianists have a secret weapon. Now depending on their age, the secret weapon may no longer play an essential role, but rest assured, in the earliest years of their piano education the impressive development of most great pianists was aided by one especially important weapon…
As with any generalization, there are exceptions to such a bold statement but make no mistake… very few great pianists would be great without the support and guidance of great parents.
What Does It Take To Be A Great Piano Parent?
I was, and am, very fortunate to be blessed with not only great parents, but also great piano parents. Their actions as piano parents were integral to my success as a piano student. Below are 4 important elements that my made parents my secret weapon for success:
My Parents Called the Shots
My parents did not force me into taking piano lessons. However, once I had expressed interest and signed up, quitting piano lessons part-way through the year was not an option. And thank goodness it wasn’t! Because let’s be honest, kids are “right here, right now” kind of creatures and need the guidance of parents to keep them motivated… even if it means missing a play date, a trip to the beach, or a birthday party because of piano lessons.
At every year’s end, my parents always made the decision to re-register me in piano lessons based on their observations of my personal enjoyment. They did not ask me straight out “Do you want to take piano lessons again next year?” because depending on my mood, the weather, or whether or not I liked what we were having dinner, my answer could vary. So they made the decision, knowing that I was progressing as a pianist, I enjoyed playing piano most of the time, and I was reaping the academic and social benefits of piano lessons.
My Parents Made Piano Lessons a Priority
Knowing that we had made a commitment, piano lessons became as important as eating, sleeping, and brushing your teeth. Piano lessons and recitals were not to be missed. My parents knew that asking me to commit to piano lessons, meant that they had to make a commitment to making every lesson no matter how busy life would get… and trust me, it got busy!
My Parents Were Practice Partners
My piano was in the living room. And if my mom was not on the bench beside me she was certainly not far off. She knew exactly what piece I was supposed to be working on, she knew what measures were tripping me up, and most importantly, she knew that I loved playing for her. Rather than saying, “Did you practice for 15 minutes?”, my mom would say, “Your crescendo in the fourth measure was beautiful!” And it wasn’t just my mom who was involved. Even though my dad was not a piano player, he was always eager to witness a mini-concert from the couch and attended every single recital without fail. I knew without a doubt that my involvement in the piano was something both of my parents valued.
My Parents Loved My Piano Teacher
My parents chose my piano teacher very carefully. And in doing so, they found a kind, caring, and respected educator. By making that wise initial choice, they knew from that point on, they could trust her guidance as I developed as a musician. They always spoke highly of her, listened to her musical advice, and made sure I knew how lucky I was to have such a fantastic teacher. In doing so, they modelled the respect that I knew I must show for my wonderful piano teacher who would go on to play a huge role in my life and my career.
I’m going to finish this post of with an analogy, As many of you know, Trevor and I are far better educators than we are analogists (I think I just made up a word!… #analogists) but we keep trying, so, here we go… There are 3 pieces to a piano student pie; the piano student, the piano teacher, and the piano parents. If any one of these three pieces is missing you’ll have a messy dessert that will never win first prize at the county fair.
My Parents Would Have Had A Blast If…
Shhhh… Your Piano Teacher Thinks This Is Practice was available back then! The 88 activities in this awesome piano resource are a great tool for helping piano parents have fun with their children during home practice.