6 Absolute ‘Must Know’ Ways To Reduce Frustration When Kids Learn To Play The Piano
As a teacher, one of my favourite aspects of teaching is welcoming a beginner student and just basking in the enthusiasm they show for learning to play the piano on that first day.
Nothing can ever compare to the sheer joy that kids radiate on that first day of piano lessons.
Unfortunately, I have always found that while the enthusiasm does last for a while it doesn’t always last long enough to help them get over the difficult and most challenging aspects of learning to play the piano.
While many kids tend to push through the lack of motivation and stick with it, there are many more that simply do it because their parents are forcing them to. As I have talked about many times on this page, the piano is the easiest instrument to play at first but the hardest to master in the end.
As a result, unless a child has the sheer grit and determination and an undying love for playing the piano, often that initial enthusiasm of learning to play the piano does not linger very long and with it disappears the aspiration of learning to play the piano in the long term
This phenomenon continues to happen with a majority of kids who attend piano lessons (irrespective of how interesting or boring the music teacher makes the lessons). It is for this reason that I thought it would be fantastic if I could give you some specific advice on what you could do as a parent to help reduce the frustration your child feels and ensure that he/she sticks with it in the long run.
Practice Is About Progress Not Perfection
As I have stated on many different occasions, one of the main reasons children hate music practice is because they think that they have to get it correct the first time or even the second time and so on. However, nothing can be further from the truth.
Realistically practice should be about progress and not about perfection.
As a parent if you are able to look through the imperfections and commend your child for the progress he/she is making then, that alone will go a long way to help your child to practice more often and in turn it will make your child a better musician, which will then increase his/her level of motivation. In a previous article, I discussed how you should focus on progress rather than perfection, you can read it here and gain more insights into how to do this.
Develop A Growth Mindset In Your Child
This is something I learned from the renowned Carol Dweck to who I will be ever grateful for coining this term. In essence, this means that we should not give up on something simply because we think we are bad at it, but rather should keep at it and celebrate the fact that we are becoming better and can improve in the long term.
So, if you have a child who feels that he or she is not good at piano, then you should explain that with practice he/she can get better and while he/she might not be an overnight success (because there is no such thing) simply becoming a tiny bit better than he already is would be a huge victory. What is more, he can continue to build on each small victory until he gets to his ultimate goal.
Engage Visual, Auditory And Kinesthetic Senses
Some kids are visual learners, others are auditory learners and still others learn by doing things and through touching and feeling. When learning doesn’t engage our primary style of learning or specific senses that we are more attuned to, we tend to give up on learning and disengage.
Do you know your child’s learning style?
Take a few moments or even a few days to find out what his/her learning style is and what style would engage him the most.
When learning music you can engage all the different styles such as sight reading (visual), listening (auditory) and playing the instrument (Kinesthetic), you can also play a variety of musical games, which will help to engage your child further and make learning music more engaging, more fun and less tedious.
Take A Multi-Pronged Approach
There is a common myth out there that learning music theory is not required for kids who are learning for fun. I have discussed this many times on this blog and you can read this article I wrote on the benefits of learning music theory.
When you take a multi-pronged approach such as playing an instrument and learning music theory alongside it, children understand what they see and hear better and that helps increase retention and helps them master the instrument sooner, thus reducing the frustrations that they feel when they are unable to play as well as they want to.
It’s OK To Make Mistakes
Somehow many students learning to play piano and even piano parents tend to think that it is wrong to make mistakes. Simply because you see master musicians playing without making mistakes, doesn’t mean that your child has to do so as well.
In fact, even master musicians make mistakes when performing but they don’t let that get in their way and they are able to come back from it so rapidly that the audience doesn’t even realise that they made a mistake.
Also, you have to remember that people, who haven’t made mistakes, haven’t made anything in their lives.
Remember the story of Thomas Edison who said he didn’t make 10,000 mistakes but rather learned 10,000 different ways in which not to make a lightbulb? In fact, we have to teach our children that what is most important is not that we don’t make any mistakes but rather that we do not let those mistakes get to us. If you have a child that is always flustered when she makes mistakes then read this article that I wrote about why it is important that we make mistakes when learning to play the piano.
Learn Alongside Your Child and Celebrate The Victories
In my homeschool piano programs, I always advocate that parents should learn alongside the child, the reason for this is because, when you learn alongside the child you understand the challenges faced by the child and you also gain first-hand experience on how tricky it can be to play a musical instrument.
Thus you will learn to appreciate the progress they make and will no doubt genuinely celebrate even the tiniest of victories wholeheartedly. However, more than anything else, learning alongside your child helps you bond with your child much better and most importantly gives you deep insights into your child’s learning style and how you can help him or her excel at what he/she is learning.
Furthermore, from my own experience, I have found that the most successful kids when learning to play the piano have parents who are fully involved in their musical journey and I even wrote about it in a previous article, which you can read here.
What is more, there is research to indicate that kids who are successful at learning to play the piano or any instrument for that matter had highly involved parents, but it is not necessary for those parents to have a knowledge of music, just being involved in the manner stated in this article would help increase your child’s success rate when learning to play the piano.
Now that you have read, how you can reduce your child’s frustrations when learning to play the piano or any other instrument, I hope you will implement these ideas and let me know what you think of them.
Come join my community of amazing homeschooling parents who have been teaching their kids to play the piano (even though many of them have never touched a piano in their lives) and you can learn many more tips and tricks on how you can increase your child’s success rate when learning to play the piano.