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April 29, 2024

How Do I Keep My Child Interested in Piano Lessons?

By Sam Villano, piano teacher

We all want our kids to get exposed to many different things at a young age. What parent doesn't want their child to have every opportunity available to them? Piano lessons are one of the most popular choices for children, but with so many activities and an ever-increasing amount of school work, how do you keep kids interested in the piano long-term?

To start, how long should kids stick with piano lessons? Well, that's a good question, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. As a musician, I'm inclined to point out the numerous benefits of sticking with music, including the possibility of a fulfilling career as a performer or teacher, increased test scores (especially in math), the opportunity for college scholarships, or even just that playing music is a lot of fun throughout your life.

In my career, I've taught hundreds of piano students. Most of my students were kids ages 8-10 when they get started. Whenever I start with a new student, I have a conversation with the parents and the student. I find out about background, like why they're interested in piano, and experience right away, but then I ask about goals. Most of the time, there isn't a goal, other than "let's try it out." That's not a bad thing, nor is unexpected. Most parents are not musicians themselves, or they had a few lessons as kids but they didn't stick with it.

The number one thing I hear from adults is "I wish I had stuck with piano lessons when I was a kid."

So, what are some goals we can set with kids? Becoming a professional musician? Going to music school? Maybe, but these are loooooong-term goals, some of which are at least a decade away. How about one that's a little bit closer? Specifically, let's set a goal to play two recitals and finish our first method book.

The first recital might be a few months away, and since most kids are beginners, this is going to be a pretty basic piano piece since they're just learning the motor skills needed to play the instrument. By the second recital, we should be a lot more advanced, probably close to the end of our first book, and getting ready for the second book in the series. Now, it's time for our next goal, and that's up to you and your teacher.

By this point, we've made it well past the biggest hurdle, which the first three months. The biggest thing I've found is that students quit when they get bored in the beginning. If a student can stick with the instrument for three months, they tend to stick with it for years to come.

As a parent, this means be encouraging and supportive, especially in the beginning. Help your child have fun at the piano for 15 minutes a day after school.

Yes, you can require that your kids practice, but as a teacher, I prefer discuss my practice recommendations for young kids (never requirements) with parents. Believe it or not, a lot of the time, it's the kids who are required to practice that don't stick around most of the time. But if they just have 15 minutes of sitting at the piano after school by themselves and playing, the student has a lot more fun. This helps kids build a habit of playing, and it's much easier to introduce things to work on during that time once the habit is in place.

All of these things put together will help kids stick with piano for years.

To recap, here's how you can help your child stick with piano:

  1. As a parent, be supportive and encouraging to help kids make it through the first three months

  2. Set medium-term goals like playing on two recitals and finishing their method book

  3. Help your kids get in the habit of playing piano with 15 minutes of piano time after school

  4. Bonus! Don't just pick boring music! Your kid has a favorite song, so ask your teacher for help to find a simple piano arrangement of it. They'll need a certain amount of skill to play it, most likely, but chances are that they could get started on it after a few months.

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