In a time when your children’s schedules and routines have been turned upside down, there is one thing that can remain: music! Music has always given people hope, and people have always turned to music in difficult times.
During these times of social distancing, your children will find themselves with more free time. Playing their instrument can help fill the void that the loss of other activities has created while also providing a sense of purpose, control, and accomplishment, and it can help maintain a sense of normalcy.
Ensuring music practice happens regularly will also keep your children’s skills polished, and prevent the loss of all the musical knowledge they have gained recently.
While you begin to create a new schedule for your family, I thought it would be helpful to share some tips for incorporating home practice into your new routines.
Set aside time each day that will always be “piano (or guitar or ukulele) practice time”. Post a schedule on your fridge and stick to it as best you can. Your children will appreciate a predictable routine right now. Practice is more likely to happen if it takes place at the same time each day. I recommend practicing in the morning as your children will be fresh and free from other distractions that will inevitably happen over the course of a day.
Try to be present during your children’s practice, even if you are just listening. Depending on age, your children may need basic assistance (organizing materials, reading lesson notes, troubleshooting) or they may simply appreciate your physical presence in the room. Sit and have your morning cup of coffee as your children make music. You’ll likely look forward to this “break from reality” too!
Keep your piano* area free from distractions. For piano to become a happy reprieve, turn off the TV, remove younger siblings or pets and make the practice space welcoming. Be sure to declutter and organize materials so they are easily at hand. Your children may enjoy taking on the project of creating a “piano practice nest” (making their piano area cozy and welcoming). (*Substitute “guitar” or “ukulele” for “piano”)
Be encouraging and positive about your children’s attempts at their instrument. Don’t worry about fixing mistakes you may hear (that’s my job!) and instead be a cheerleader to your children’s learning efforts. Mistakes can be easily fixed. Right now, the focus should be on being enthusiastic about the learning process.
Provide “reasons” for your children to practice. I know that family members who are not in physical contact with you right now would LOVE to have recorded performances or live FaceTime performances of your children’s music-making. Prepping for any sort of performance can be very motivating to children.
Go online and watch music performances together. Seek out “new” styles of music to explore, maybe a symphony orchestra performance, or a jazz ensemble, or a random young person’s piano recital.
I will continue to brainstorm ideas for ways to keep everyone motivated and practicing during this unusual time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions, concerns, or ideas!
(adapted from and inspired by "teach piano today" website)
Saturday March 14, 2020: Dear students and parents, in light of the school closures next week, I have decided to cancel in-person lessons until Monday March 30th. I would like to offer the option of lessons via facetime or skype, for those students who have the focus and ability to do that. (I have not attempted this before so it will be a new experience for me!) Please contact me if you think you would like to try that. Otherwise I can email/text everyone specific assignments, and will be available via phone/text/email/facetime for any questions/concerns/ideas you might have. At this point I am still planning on holding the recital on May 3rd, but we will have to wait and see what the public gathering recommendations are by that date. Please stay safe and healthy, and keep playing music!