The most important thing for piano student success

What is the most important thing we as piano teachers can do to ensure the success of our students?

piano student success

I argue that it is teaching our students how to practice.

When children begin lessons (or teens and adults, for that matter), they are so excited! They love practicing and playing this new instrument and using the exciting new skills that they’ve learned. Lessons are fun, they’re a novelty, and that newness and novelty of it all propels them to practice at home!

But then, they hit the 4-week slump.

About a month or so into lessons, the novelty begins to wear off, and the reality that is the need for consistent practice sets in. As teachers we see these students for a half hour, one hour per week tops. No matter what we do to make lessons fun and exciting, no matter how encouraging we are, the amount and quality of the practice at home is what will help them to truly progress.

And so it is imperative that we do a couple of things:

  1. Give our students the practicing skills necessary to practice well, to practice efficiently and to make the most out of their daily practice!
  2. Get the parents on board. The parent is the one who is sitting at the piano with their child every day helping with the practice session. (Or maybe they’re not helping, and they need some encouragement to know what an appropriate amount of practicing help is needed for their child.) We need to give these parents some guidance on how great practicing should go!

The difference between great practicers and not-so-great practicers is huge, as is the difference between a child with a supportive, involved parent who helps them practice well and consistently, and one whose parent doesn’t know how to help. Let’s try and bridge that gap and help all of our students succeed!

This free printable is an awesome way to get piano parents on board from the get-go. It’s a parent/teacher/student contract that lays out the roles of each party in this music learning triangle.

And are you, like me, getting tired of writing out the same old practice steps over and over and over and over in your students’ music? Think of the minutes you could save to spend on other important things when you don’t need to write “count out loud” and “say letter names” and “curve those fingers!” 12 million times. This free printable set of Perfect Practice Stickers is just what you need! Simply print on an Avery 8160 label, then peel and place on your students’ music. They can follow the steps and check them off, and you don’t need to write a thing! You’re welcome.

Jennifer Boster

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