As a piano teacher, you can’t do it all. You can’t control when your students practice, where your students practice, or how often your piano students practice.
You need a teaching assistant who can be with your students each and every day. Fortunately, every piano student comes with a piano parent.
…And it’s time to put them to work!
There is not a piano student in this world who has committed to piano lessons throughout an entire childhood without a parent who was equally committed.
So, let’s get musical and non-musical piano parents on board with a list of home practice teaching assistant tasks that can turn your students into lifelong musicians.
How Piano Parents Can Help
Piano parents don’t have to be nervous about helping out at home. They don’t even have to know how to play the piano to make a difference!
In fact, piano parents really only have to achieve one, single goal: to get their children on the piano every day.
Most piano parents take this to mean that they need to nag their children about practicing piano. But this is definitely not the best way to encourage daily practice.
The best way to encourage daily piano practice is to be an engaged piano parent.
An engaged piano parent is a parent that is an active part of the home practice environment. This can take many forms but it most certainly does not require a piano parent to be musical.
In fact, sometimes it is easier for piano teachers if the parent is not musical. Occasionally, musical piano parents may not be in sync with a piano teacher’s style, creating a conflict between what is being learned in lessons and what is being learned at home.
What Is The Goal Of An Engaged Piano Parent?
An engaged piano parent’s only goal is to support daily practice in a proactive way. Simply said, we want piano parents to encourage daily practice without nagging.
Nagging makes piano practice miserable and has the opposite effect on our quest for regular practice routines.
Instead, proactive piano parents have their own home practice tasks to complete, just as their children do. This creates a teamwork environment where parents and children are working together towards the common goal of daily practice.
14 Practice Tasks For Piano Parents
We have established that regular practice routines will not happen without proactive piano parents. So, how can parents be proactive practice assistants even if they have never touched a piano?
Below we’ve included a list of Teaching Assistant Tasks that musical and non-musical parents can perform during home practice sessions.
1. The Practice Practice Bouncer: Let’s begin with the simplest of tasks for piano parents. To encourage effective daily practice, proactive parents must act as the Practice Practice Bouncer. This job requires parents to keep family pets, siblings, and friends out of the piano room. Even more importantly for older students, this job requires keeping cellphones quiet during practice sessions.
2. The Practice Videographer: Piano teachers love to know what’s happening at home. By being a videographer, proactive piano parents can provide teachers with valuable home practice recordings that can be used to improve technique, posture, rhythm, and more.
3. The Piano Piece Request Line: The most accomplished piano students always revisit pieces from their past to brush up on skills and to simply revisit some old favorites. During practice sessions, parents can get involved by requesting their children to perform some pieces that they have enjoyed hearing from past recitals.
4. The Lead Vocalist: Most people are not too comfortable with breaking out into song in public, but they will happily sing in front of their own children. Parents of your littlest piano students should be encouraged to sing along with song lyrics. Just make sure that the sing-alongs happen with songs their children already know quite well. Sing-alongs do not work when a song is first being learned.
5. The Youtube Liaison: As students get older, it can get harder for piano parents to be active in the home practice process. By transitioning from an authoritative role to an assistant role, parents can be supportive by performing simple tasks such as searching out quality Youtube performances of pieces their children are playing. It can be a really useful experience for teen piano players to see and hear performances of the pieces they are about to play.
6. The Piano Studio Janitor: Parents are the ultimate, and original, janitors. While it is important that students learn to organize their own practice spaces, if parents are looking for a simple task to get involved in practice sessions, getting the home piano space in order before each practice session can be very helpful.
7. The Concert Promotor: As a parent myself, I know that showing off our kids comes naturally. For this reason, proactive parents can take on the role of home practice concert promotor. This job involves getting their children to perform when friends, grandparents, and aunts and uncles come over for a visit, or sending videos and initiating FaceTime performances.
8. The Timekeeper: If your students are using Andrea And Trevor Dow’s Timed Note Reading Tests For Piano, then their parents can be the timekeeper when it is time for their daily note reading practice. Learn more about our timed note reading tests here.
9. The Sticker Giver: The worst thing a parent can do during a home practice session is to instigate practice wars. Music is supposed to be a delightful experience. And what is more delightful for piano students than stickers?! Encourage piano parents to listen in on home practice sessions and then distribute stickers when they hear a piano piece or a technical exercise that was performed particularly well.
10. The Role Reversal: Parents spend most of their lives in an authoritative role but during home practice sessions it can be a wonderful learning experience for their children to take the leading role and teach the adults something new. Encourage your piano students to teach their parents how to clap a rhythm, play a piano game, or perform a simple duet.
11. The Check-Marker: As a piano teacher, you probably spend a great deal of time writing detailed lesson notes, only to have them returned with very little feedback. By putting piano parents in charge of checking off home practice tasks on your lesson assignment sheets, you will have a better idea of what happened during your piano students’ home practice sessions.
12. The Lesson Note Reader: This task goes hand-in-hand with The Check-Marker. Piano students often forget to read your lesson notes and, therefore, do not know what their focus should be during home practice sessions. Encourage your piano parents to read your lesson notes to their children before the start of piano practice.
13. The Active Audience Member: Whether musical or not, piano parents can lend an ear as a piano practice audience member. Instruct your piano parents to only provide positive feedback as they listen to their children perform repertoire and exercises.
14. The Frustration Interpreter: Young piano students are not great at vocalizing their challenges. Teachers often struggle to uncover what is tripping up their students. For this reason, parents can serve as an interpreter for piano teachers. During home practice sessions, encourage your piano parents to discuss difficulties and challenges with their children and then record their findings as notes that can be shared with you at the next lesson.
Did We Miss Any Piano Parent Tasks?
Do you give your piano parents advice for home practice support? If so, we’d love for you to share in the comments below.
And don’t forget… if you’re looking for daily piano homework resources be sure to check out Teach Piano Today’s Homework Pages here.