If you’re like most piano teachers, you probably spend between 5 and 10 hours a week planning upcoming lessons. Experienced teachers know that simply “winging it” means a week of frustration for piano students and teachers alike. And a week of frustration is about as valuable as a week of missed lessons.
But what about planning for your student’s home practice? How much time do you spend planning for the hours of practice that happen (or should be happening!) at home each week?
If you’re like me, for many years, planning for home practice was something that took place at the end of each piano lesson and usually consisted of a reminder to practice “tasks one, two, and three” for 20 to 30 minutes each day.
It’s Like Eating Greek Salad Every Day For a Week
Eventually you’re going to get sick of it.
FYI, Greek Salad just happens to be the fallback meal in our household. And we have had particularly busy weeks when it happens to grace our dinner menu each and every day. If you’ve never seen a two year old shoot daggers across a table, try serving Greek Salad for the fourth day in a row… but I digress.
Telling your piano students to practice the same 3 tasks, or the same 3 pieces, or the same 3 technical exercises everyday for 30 minutes is like serving up Greek Salad over and over.
Eventually you’ll end up with a hunger… I mean “practice strike” on your hands.
How To Plan For Practice and Still Have a Life
Planning a varied week of piano practice does not have to be an onerous task. Once you have an exciting schedule, you can recycle it with all of your students and refresh it once a month.
The key component to an effective practice schedule is to remember that you don’t have to change what you are already telling them to practice… you simply have to help them include variety in the WAY they practice.
Here is an example of what an exciting week of piano practice might look like:
Monday’s Past, Present, Future Family Recital
A great way to start a week of practice off right is to get the parents involved in a mini-recital. Your students can sit Mom and Dad down on the couch and play them a piece from the past that they know from heart, a piece that they’ve been working on for a while now, and a piece that they just started.
Tuesday Tap Practice
We’ve written about Tap Practice in the past. Kids absolutely love this strategy… and teachers love how it can be used to perfect pieces for upcoming performances.
Wednesday is the hardest day of the week for adults… and kids to get through. If piano practice is going to drop off, it will happen on a Wednesday. That is why every Wednesday my piano students are busting a gut using activities from our resource, Shhhh… Your Piano Teacher Thinks This Is Practice.
Practice Incentive Thursdays (sorry… I ran out of clever alliterations)
Most piano teachers run some sort of practice incentive. Often these include activities for each day of the week, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Setting aside one day of the week for a practice incentive task can provide the variety and motivation your piano students need.
In our house Friday nights are a time for family. So before we sit down for a game of Monopoly or a movie, a raucous round of piano duets are usually on the menu. We just wrote a post about this last Monday so rather than reiterate it, you can check it out here.
This Schedule Is Not Set In Stone
The above schedule is just an example. There are a million different ways to add variety to weekly piano practice. Eventually this schedule will become stale and you’ll have to mix it up anyways. But if your students are stuck in a bit of a practice rut, hopefully this schedule can pull them out!