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What can I do to help motivate my child to practice effectively at the piano?
I believe that motivation is the key to progress. As a piano teacher, I feel that the ideal form of motivation should be the sheer joy and pleasure of being able to play a piece of music at the piano. However, the reality is that many children need something more to motivate them.

Some children respond well to attention. They enjoy having parents and/or family friends sit with them and express an interest in what they are learning. This does not mean they actually want to receive help. It is often quite the contrary. They seem to just enjoy the attention.

Sometimes working together with your child's teacher to engage your child in a specific project or goal can also be effective in motivating children. Practice Guide

Parents can also help motivate their children to practice more independently. Ideally, I think the specific form of motivation should reflect the personal values of the individual family involved. What motivates your child? What forms of motivation will support your family's values? These are questions that as parents, you might want to discuss at home and then again with your child's teacher.

Over the years, the families I have worked with have provided many creative and effective solutions for
motivating their children to practice the piano more effectively.

Here are some of my favorite examples of how some parents have helped motivate their children:

*Family Concerts
Some families initiate informal family concerts: the inclusion of grandparents often provides additional motivation. These informal performances are most successful when the children, teacher and parents are involved together in the preparation and planning.

*Homemade CD recordings to give as gifts to grandparents and other family members and/or special friends.

*This next idea is the all time winner for originality and creativity! One mother bought some small blank cardboard puzzles containing 5-6 pieces (arts and crafts stores carry them). On each puzzle she wrote a specific prize: breakfast in bed, trip to the bookstore, choice of movie for movie night, choice of menu for Sunday dinner etc. The child was awarded one puzzle piece for each good practice session. By the end of the week, it was possible to complete the puzzle. When the puzzle was completed she was able to receive the 'prize'. What I loved about this particular method is that it encompassed both short and long-term goals. Each completed puzzle could in turn be traded for one puzzle piece to another puzzle that contained a 'more valuable' prize (remember that these 'prizes' should reflect your family's values. A 'more valuable' prize doesn't mean it has to cost more money. Often, it will mean it involves more time -something that is becoming increasingly
rare and consequently, more valuable.

*For every 30 minutes of piano practice, the child is granted 30 minutes of computer time.

*A specific privlege is granted with the completion of a certain amount of good practice sessions at the piano: Breakfast in Bed, Slumber Party, Invite a Friend to the Movies, Special Trip to the Bookstore, Special Parent/Child Time (bake cookies, go shopping, go for a walk, play a game).

*One mother took her teenage daughter to a bead store and let her pick out a certain number of beads. Two glass jars were kept beside the piano and for every 10 minutes of piano practice, the child was able to transfer one bead from one jar to the next. It was decided that about 3 hours of piano practice were to be accomplished by the end of each week but the amount of time per day would vary according to that particular day's scheduling constraints. The child was able to visually keep track of her piano practice in a way that was satisfying to her.

Piano Practice and Motivation: Would you like to share something that has worked for you and your family? The suggestion will be made public but your identity will remain anonymous.

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