What Do I Do About Students That Don’t Practice?

Question from Kalin, American Fork, UT

SHORT ANSWER:

1. Keep it Positive!

2. Get Curious

3.  Mix It Up

4. Challenge and Reward

5. Don’t Take it Personal.

 

 

LONG ANSWER

1. KEEP IT POSITIVE: Remember everyone is already frustrated. Adding a lecture or a negative attitude to the situation will just escalate the problem. Instead, work to build a trusting friendship (even if doesn’t center around piano lessons).

TBH: I wasn’t always the best practicer growing up. Sometimes the first time I opened my book after the last lesson was at the next lesson- ha ha! Lucky for me I had a piano teacher that was PATIENT and POSITIVE and just kept trying to motovate me! 

2. GET CURIOUS: Ask Yourself

  • Have they been a good practice in the past?
  • What is happening on their home/school life?
  • Has anything changed in their Piano lesson curriculum?

Sometime just pinpointing what is happening at home (besides all the non-practice) is the key to the solution.

FAMILIES ARE BUSY! Way busier than they ever used to be. Sometimes, piano practicing is just not on the priority list – and dare I say: THAT’S OKAY! When we look at the grand scheme of things learning to play the piano is a ultra-marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes a student’s progress slows down or even plateaus for awhile. As long as it doesn’t come to a stop forever it is okay.

A little advice from me: I encourage you not to reprimand a student for being involved in other activities or in sports. A child’s  youth is a time when they are EXPLORING themselves. They may come back to piano -full force! Keep that door open for them.

3. MIX IT UP:

  • Practice and perfect a song AT THEIR LESSON and then let them HAVE FUN all week playing it. At the next lesson just move on to another song.
  • Instead of a CURRICULUM  based lesson (working out of their lesson book, performance book, etc.), have a PROJECT based lesson. One of my favorite things to do is to help the student make a CD to give as a gift. Have the student help choose the songs (maybe it’s the gift receiver’s favorite ones). Learn and record (this might be over the course of a year). Burn on a CD for a surprise gift. SO SO FUN! Don’t know how? Ask Piano Gal Val
  • Take a deep dive into another music related topic: composing, music composers, theory, pop culture Don’t know how? Ask Piano Gal Val
  • Seriously though, just get creative!!!

4. CHALLENGE  and REWARD

  • Find out their FAVORITE Reward: money, chocolate, gift card, verbal praise, new music. Sometimes a sticker on their page isn’t what is motivating them.
  • Collaberate with parents for a bigger reward (something you can’t afford to give on a teacher’s income).
  • For the right student, make it competitive. Sometimes they perform better for their peers. Have a chart that marks songs passed off, total time practices, scales that are mastered, etc. I absolutely love having a Monthly Themed Challenge in my studio. Don’t know how? Ask Piano Gal Val

5. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONAL: Remember this piano journey is theirs not yours. You are just their guide right now. Maybe they have reached a point that a different guide will suit them better. It doesn’t mean anything negative about you. Each student brings their own set of challenges and each teacher brings their own set of skills. Sometimes those don’t match up. If you feel you have done everything you possibly can to help them, then pass them to the next guide.

Whether you continue the journey with your student that isn’t practicing or not, just make sure you treat them with positivity and love. YOU WILL NEVER REGRET THAT!

 

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