Incentives, Piano Lesson Success

How shouting at my kids made them practice better!

Over the years, I’ve seen it all at my house. The piano practices that were done at record speeds just to get it over with, the ones where heels dragged to the piano so slowly they barely got 5 minutes in before it was time to run for the school bus, the practice done in tears, the practice done with loud banging and a scowl…oh, and my kids have done this too. 😉 Don’t forget, I grew up having to practice the piano too…I know all the shenanigans!

So what is a parent to do to keep their child motivated and practicing better all while keeping the tears and the scowls at bay? Well, frankly, I’ve taken to shouting! That’s right, I pretty much try and yell at my kids each morning at least once, if not more. Both of my children practice before school. Dexter on the upright piano upstairs and Delaney downstairs on the grand. Since I am both teacher and parent, I try to step back just a little bit during their practice time….to keep my sanity but also to allow them to develop a little independence. But as a parent, I’m not totally off the hook. If I don’t give them a bit of direction, their practice time is likely to turn into a race through the pieces just to get them done with little growth or progress being made. So, while I make their breakfast in the kitchen, I keep an ear out and listen to their practice and then I shout.

Sometimes, it as simple as, “Holy Cow! Remember how hard that was to play last week?? Now listen to it!! Practicing that piece carefully 5 times every day sure paid off! That’s incredible!” or maybe “Wow, that was the most expressive I have ever heard you play that!!! Can you do that again with all those beautiful dynamics!” Occasionally my shouts have scared the pants off of them, but because I do it so positively and enthusiastically, they usually end up laughing or at least smiling after they’ve jumped 3 feet in the air or fallen off the bench.

Imagine my excitement this week when I found out that I’m not the only parent shouting at their kids…and that this shouting is a pretty good thing. My favorite piano blogger Andrea Dow just wrote about doing something similar and she put together this sweet graphic for us piano teachers (and parents!) to share.

So, print this off to put on your fridge and when piano practice has got you wanting to shout this week, pick something off of this page and shout it out! All in love of course!

shout out practice


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