I recently started a few new kindergarten students and I was wondering if you might have any practice suggestions for that age. I would especially like to give some ideas to their parents about how they can help their children practice.
I’m finding more and more that the best approach to teaching good practice habits is to take the time to have the student model them in the lesson. A lot of times we look over a new (8-measure) piece and see if they can tell which measure will be the hardest. Then we start with that measure and master it until it feels easy. Or we start out clapping and counting, or air-playing the finger patterns, etc. It takes more time this way, but usually neither the student nor the parent really “gets” it if you just tell them what to do at home. They have to observe and experience it so that they actually understand what it should look like when they practice.
Here are a few other links that you may find helpful:
- 13 Ideas for Parents to Prepare their Young Children for Piano Lessons – This is specifically geared toward parents helping prepare their children for lessons, but you may find some helpful tips for practicing, too.
- Fun and Easy Musical Activities for Young Children – a video clip with similar content to the above post.
- Music Lessons: The Parents’ Perspective – a collection of articles by parents on ideas for helping their children with practicing.
- The Penny Practice Game – The Penny Game is one that I use with a lot of young students and encourage them and their parents to use at home, too.
- Another Fun Practice Game – a fun practice idea for young students that another teacher shared with me.
It is amazing what a difference it makes for young children when they have a dedicated parent who attends lessons and practices with them during the week! I would love to hear any other ideas from teachers or parents on how to develop good practice habits for young students.
Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!