How to Motivate Children to Practice

When you sign your child up for piano lessons, you have hopes and dreams for their success.  It’s great when they are motivated on their own to practice, but it’s typical for students to have periods when they seem to lack motivation.  What can you do as a parent to help re-ignite their fire?  Here’s a couple of ideas my own mother used with me.

1.  “Mary, will you play for me while I cook dinner?”  The piano was in our living room and open to the kitchen.  To this day I can still see my mom cooking while I played.  It was something the two of us shared, and I thank her for that gift.

2.  “Mary, I’ll clean the kitchen for you if you’ll play for me.”  If all I had to do to get out of my job of cleaning the kitchen was to play the piano, then I was going to do it.  Of course, my mom took full advantage and scrubbed every nook and cranny until that kitchen was spotless.  I couldn’t leave the piano until she was done with the kitchen.  Again, to this day, that picture of me playing and her cleaning the kitchen is indelibly etched in my mind.

3.  “Mary, let’s take an R&R day, just the two of us.”  This only happened once a year around my birthday when I was in elementary and middle school.  She cleared the entire schedule for the day, including school, and we went out to lunch and shopping.  It is some of my best memories with my mom.

As a student, did I have periods of time where I did not practice?  Yes.
Did I always follow my piano teacher’s assignment?  No.
Did my mom ever nag me to practice?  No.

Through her creative ideas she found ways to encourage me to keep playing, and the piano has become a constant in my life that today I get to share with others.  I can’t imagine my life without it.

With your own children, before you’re about to tear your hair out, try some of these creative ideas, or think of your own.  They can become long-lasting fond memories for your child well into their adulthood, and someday, your child just might thank you.

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