Is your child in and out a lot this summer and having difficulty finding time to practice? While I can’t stress enough the importance of spending time at the piano practicing, did you know there are some things a piano student can do to improve his/her skills even when away from the piano?
Good posture is very important for a piano player. Even when the piano player is away from her beloved instrument, she can practice correct posture. This practice away from the piano will make it easier for her to have correct posture while sitting at the piano.
To play the piano correctly a student must learn to keep her hands in the proper shape while at the piano. Many students like to rest their hands flat on the piano, but this is a bad habit that negatively effects the playing and must be corrected, sooner, rather than later. Encourage your child to practice holding an invisible ball or bubble. This creates the hand shape necessary for playing the piano. The more a student becomes familiar with this hand shape, the better equipped he will be at playing the piano with the correct hand shape.
FINGER CONTROL & RHYTHM
Obviously, playing the piano requires much hand/eye coordination and individual finger control. While away from the piano a student can practice gaining control over his individual fingers. Here’s a simple game that can be fun to play when you have a few minutes to spare. Think: Waiting room, car trips, grandma’s house, etc.
- Have the child hold up both hands, with fingers spread.
- Call out different finger numbers for the child to wiggle. (Ex: Left hand #4!)
- The goal is to help your child remember piano finger numbers and practice moving fingers individually.
- For older/more advanced students you can call out one finger from each hand. (Ex: Left hand 5 & Right Hand 2!) They should practice responding quickly and accurately, and wiggle both fingers at the same time.
This game can be fun and lead to lots of giggles while sneaking in extra practice. 🙂
To add rhythm practice into this game, you can bring along your child’s piano book. Have your child “play” his songs with the correct fingering and rhythm. The child can practice playing the rhythm on a table or on his lap. The fingers will gain practice which can help a student improve, even while away from the piano.
Ah, flash cards…. Some people love ’em, others hate ’em. Frankly, whether a student enjoys or hates flash cards often is a reflection of the attitude they’re presented with. If it is presented as a boring but necessary task, the child will trudge through flash cards only when forced. This doesn’t have to be so! Flash cards can be loads of fun and something that your child actually requests to do! Easiest way to make flash cards an enjoyable task? Make it fun! Make it easily accomplished. Don’t just hand your child a stack of flashcards and say, “Learn these.” Start with 3-5 flashcards. Have the child spend 5 min (or less if they catch on quickly) with those few cards. Then you’re done for the day! The next day have them do those first few cards again. Once they are strong on those, add 1 more card. Now the child only has 4-6 flash cards to work with, but most of them are easily recognized.
If you stay consistent with this method and have your child work on flashcards just about every day, he/she will have the entire stack of cards memorized in a couple of weeks! That might not sound like a great accomplishment, but IT TRULY IS! Usually what holds beginning students back like nothing else is a struggle with identifying notes on the staff. If they can learn to identify the notes with ease, learning new songs and progressing to bigger and better pieces is SO much easier! Click on the picture below in order to print out free flashcards for the Treble Clef and the Bass Clef.
You can also turn flashcard practice into a game: a race against the clock! Set a timer and see how many flashcards you can do in that amount of time. Then see if you can increase your score every day. Encourage your child to tell his/her teacher about the progress he is making in his flashcard time. His teacher can be a cheerleader and extra encouragement to get those flashcards learned!
If you have a child that can easily identify note names, don’t think they are done with flash cards! Oh, no! You can use this same simple method to help him/her quickly master a plethora of crucial music theory concepts such as intervals, dynamics, and other important theory. Hint: This method is also a great way to study for tests in all subjects. Remember, rather than trying to soak it all in at once, break the subject into smaller chunks. Go over that small chunk multiple times until it’s imprinted. Then add another small chunk. This is the best way to retain large amounts of information quickly.
Other ways may be used to improve music skill while away from the instrument, but this is a quick overview of a few ways to get your child practicing today! Don’t let the busyness of life get in the way of improving!
Want to hear a fun piano prodigy? Click on the video below. Hint: If you just want to hear the piano playing, skip ahead to 3:20. Do you think this child was born with incredible skill? Perhaps. But what is more likely is that he practices every day. If you want your child to improve on his/her instrument, even 15 minutes of practice per day can make all the difference! Consistency is key. Enjoy your summer, and enjoy that practice!
We take the dread out of Practicing!
Practicing is a must. Period. But practicing can also be fun! Our Practice Pals program is an add-on program available to those taking lessons. When you enroll in Practice Pals, your practice leader guides your practice sessions three times per week online via webcam. Practice Pals makes your practicing fun, engaging, efficient and motivating. Students who practice regularly will progress faster, enjoy learning more (since they can quickly see progress) and are more likely to build a life-long love of music.