Motivating Children to Practice Music (Part 2)

Playing the Piano is a Privilege (Not a Chore)

Young Mozart at the Piano by E.S.M (MozartiniShop.com)An interesting experiment would be to forbid a young child to ever touch the piano, after all it is a very expensive instrument. One can easily imagine how much higher the piano instantly rises in that child’s estimation. One then promises the child that he or she will be “allowed” to begin learning the piano at a certain age. Even better then, if someone in the family—a parent, older sibling or cousin—were to frequently play very charming pieces of the kind accessible to children. Pieces from the Romantic era are very suitable for this purpose (e.g. Fϋr Elise & Doll’s Dream), should be repeated often and might even have stories invented about them. It is very natural that the child will aspire to play these pieces someday, and a united goal has been formed without duress.

When the long awaited birthday or predetermined date is come, the parent or guardian sets a time limit in which the child is allowed to practice the piano (concentration usually lasts 15-30 minutes so it is better to set too short a time than too long) and strictly enforces it. What happens after this point is too individual to generally state, but I think it is likely that practice will be less dreaded, more concentrated and the end will seem to come too soon. Eventually the child may become proficient enough that the proficiency itself will be a great motivation and make strict regulation of practice unnecessary.

The above scenario may strike some people as unusual and even unnatural. I am not instructing that the reader follow this method and neither will I discourage it for I see no harm in it. It should be remembered however that playing music is a privilege whatever our age or skill level. It should not be a thing to be suffered and should a child find a certain piece particularly odious, it may be for the better to change it for one that better pleases. If a child really despises the art, it may not be too harmful to allow him or her to give it up, for nearly everyone who gave up playing the piano at a young age lives to regret it and it is never too late to begin learning again with the knowledge of years lost as a valuable lesson learned.

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