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Activities and Resources to Encourage Practice for Kids!

Looking for ways to motivate your child to practice?  Look no further!  Below are some fantastic resources and activities for kids who need a little push to get them started!

Jumbo Songs
(some understanding of music reading required)

Many kids get frustrated trying to track music or see the distance between the notes.  This will help!

  • Step 1: procure several 8 by 12 sheets of paper
  • Step 2:  Use a ruler (or freehand) each measure (in huge print) of the song on a separate sheet of paper.  Use colorful markers/crayons and other fun craft materials such as pom poms for the note heads.  Encourage your child to put the notes on the staff in the correct place to practice reading
  • Step 3:  Treat the seperate papers  like flashcards or put them in a big line in order on the piano music stand, or wall if the child is playing guitar.

Discussing Goals
(better for older kids)

  • Step 1: have your child write down three goals that he or she wants to reach in piano.  These could be in a year’s time, or in the far off future
  • Step 2: Have your child write down three things he or she could be doing right now to achieve those goals
  • Step 3: Sign both your names at the bottom.  Consider posting this up by the child’s instrument or practice place.
  • Step 4: Check in which your child’s progress and discuss with them regularly

The Fishbowl Method

  • Step 1: Purchase or Find a bowl or container of some kind in your home that is cheap and durable.
  • Step 2: Place small prizes such as candies, small toys, stickers or scraps of paper with written activites (“get ice cream together!” ) in the fish bowl.  Choose prizes that you know will be motivating for your child, and ones that are doable for you and your budget.
  • Step 3:  Keep it hidden, or if you prefer, high up (unreachable) and in view.
  • Step 4: Have your child complete a practice chart by working on the piano or voice for an agreed upon number of minutes.  Sign the practice chart every day your child completes practice.
  • Step 5:  At the end of the month, if all the days have been signed, have your child “fish” for a prize in the bowl (no peeking!)

The Pill Box Method
(No pills involved, just good motivation!!!)

This activity is inspired by advent calendars on Christmas.

  • Step 1:  Purchase a weekly pill box from CVS or another pharmaceutical store.  Make sure the boxes are plenty big.
  • Step 2: Fill each box with a small candy or sticker and a motivational message from you about your child’s practice.
  • Step 3: When your child completes practice for the day, invite him or her to open the selected day and claim his or her prize!

Websites:

  • Musicnotes.com: If your child is just starting out and bored by lesson book songs.  Search for his or her favorite artist/song and include keywords “beginner notes” for easy reading.
  • Musictheory.net: If your child is struggling to learn the music theory and read notes properly.  Visit this site for lessons and exercises that help.
  • Kuman institute: Has a whole section on music and even interviews with musicians in orchestras like the New York Phillharmonic
  • GoNoodle.com: If you child is having a hard time calming him or herself down enough to practice or is feeling frustrated during practice, or wants to work on breathing for voice.
  • Google Images: Search for your child’s favorite practice chart together.

Youtube Channels:

  • PianoTV: Fun videos about practice, composers, famous musical compositions and more!
  • Voice Lessons to the World:  Great educational videos for older kids about the anatomy and workings of the voice

Apps

  • Staff Wars: A really fun app focused on teaching note reading.
  • Tenuto: A customizable note reading app…purchase and ask your teacher to help you with setup
  • Tongo Music: For younger children to teach them the foundations of music through an interactive, animated world
  • BlobChorus: A silly app that teaches ear training for young singers

Other tips:

  1. Go to musical events/listen to music together.  Ask your child about his or her musical interests.  Invite a discussion about music and discuss ways in which he or she can reach his or her goals on his or her instrument.  Music is a tool for self expression, so your child knowing what is motivating to him or her is going to be very helpful on the long road to becoming a virtuoso!
  2. Listen to lesson recordings together and go over teacher notes so you are on the same page with expectations for lessons
  3. Ask the teacher to video record herself playing the piano so you can better help your child at home
  4. Use the hand placement maze to help your child set his or her hands up correctly on the keyboard
  5. Play recorded warmups in the car if you are short on time and have a child who is taking voice lessons
  6. Encourage frequent breaks during times of frustration when practicing
  7. Encourage your child to use the note reading apps or “imaginary piano” when out of the house and short on time.  That’s still practice in my book!!!
  8. Consider taking lessons alongside your child if you have limited knowledge.  This will prevent frustration and misunderstandings at home
  9. Encourage your child to play songs for friends, especially friends who take lessons too.  This can be a social event and older or more experienced children may be able to help your child with practice if you cannot read music.
  10. Try to maintain a consistent lesson schedule, especially throughout the summer.  Kids lose focus and motivation without a structured lesson schedule.  They also may regress in their skills, resulting in frustration when they return to lessons.
Reach out to us today for lessons!