If you’re a piano teacher, I don’t need to tell you that consistent home practice is a constant struggle. In September, students start off with the best of practice intentions, only to have those intentions diminish in October, pick back up during “recital week” and then collapse again in December.
In January, the cycle repeats itself. Piano students’ practice consistency is strong January and then gradually drops off until it is time for a recital again in May or June.
In 2019, however, we want to help you stop this vicious cycle by sharing the one resolution every piano student should make on January 1st. Keep reading below to discover how daily practice will become the norm in your piano studio.
Understanding Willpower Is The Key To Daily Practice
People assume that willpower is something you either have or you do not have. Fortunately, this is not the case. We all have willpower. Some of us have more willpower than others, and some of us use up our willpower faster than others. But we all have willpower.
To understand willpower, consider the temptation created by chocolate. Imagine for a moment, that you are going to use your willpower to avoid chocolate for a month. On the morning of Day 1 you are feeling strong. You have a ton of willpower. For a brief moment your thoughts turn to your stash of chocolate in the cupboard above the fridge but you can easily distract yourself.
You have only used a bit of willpower.
When the afternoon of Day 1 arrives your thoughts turn again to the chocolate. By this time, the events of the day are starting to take their toll. You used some of your willpower to get in morning exercise. You used some more of your willpower to avoid social media and get your piano lesson planning done.
On the evening of Day 1 you are trashed. In addition to a full afternoon of teaching, you somehow managed to clean the house, pick up the kids from school, drive them to hockey, gymnastics, basketball, harp and soap carving, cook dinner, and wash the dog who discovered a mud puddle.
By now, all of your willpower has been used up. You collapse on the couch and prepare to binge on chocolate and Netflix.
But What Does This Have To Do With Piano Practice?
Just like adults, kids have willpower too. And, just like adults, the events of a day drains their willpower. By the time school is over, extracurricular activities are complete and dinner is consumed, kids have little to no willpower left.
Which is precisely why so many piano students do not consistently practice the piano! Despite the best of intentions, if piano practice does not happen first thing in the morning, there is a really good chance it will not happen at all… especially for younger children.
So, when it comes time to make piano resolutions in your studio, you should do everything in your power to encourage your students to practice piano in the morning. This is the best time of day to capitalize on their willpower reserves and make daily piano practice a reality. It also happens to be the best time to ensure a consistent schedule. The twists and turns of the day, means that a consistent practice time in the afternoon or evening can be disrupted by unforeseen circumstances.
But if your piano students simply cannot practice first thing in the morning, all is not lost however. Remember, willpower gradually decreases during the day, but it is never completely depleted. So, if family schedules make morning practice impossible, encourage your families to find the earliest time slot that is consistently available during each day of the week.
How To Replenish Willpower If It’s Already Drained
The great thing about willpower is that different environments require different amounts of willpower. For example, practicing a not-so-interesting piano piece that has been played for weeks may require a great deal of willpower while practicing a new and creative piano piece doesn’t require much willpower at all.
If you suspect your students may be low on willpower, then it may be time to set aside songs that snooze and introduce them to something more exciting.
For your teen piano students, this might be The Amadeus Anthems, The Beethoven Sessions, or The Chopin Sessions. Our classical pop crossover books contain pop-inspired tributes to the music of some of the world’s most famous classical composers.