There is no more important asset to your child's success at the piano then you. But how should you be with them? Let me draw on my experience as a child, as a parent, and as a teacher.
My mother really wanted me to learn to play the piano. We were immigrants from Germany and buying a used piano was a real sacrifice. She was strict and relentless in her pursuit of my practicing time. One of the best things she offered me is her sincere interest in the music I was playing. I swear she could hum all the tunes. In fact, she started learning to play herself from my beginning books. The music I played was appreciated and heard.
Lesson No.1- Become a good audience for your child. Don't send them into the trenches alone. You don't have to talk, just listen.
I made some mistakes as a parent helping my daughter take violin lessons. She was just so slow at getting out her violin, putting rosin on her bow, tuning up, I showed my exasperation by rushing her. My goal was getting 30 minutes of practice in and I couldn't see just how reluctant she was to get into the mode of playing.
Lesson No. 2- See the getting ready to practice as important and appreciate the change of mental attitude that accompanies the process.
"Now focus your attention!", is a phrase I have thrown in the trash. Children don't get that statement. Does it mean look really hard? Does it mean tense up my neck? I look at my students and observe what they look like when they are fully engaged. It is marvelous to see a relaxed and intent child playing and listening. What do they sound like when they are in that mode? Watch and listen to find uplifting comments to gift to them.
"When you sit up so tall and regal you look like a king at the piano." "That first line sounds so smooth and relaxed." "I like how your eyes look ahead at the music just like a detective." "Your pinky finger is resting so lightly on the white keys. It must be getting stronger."
Lesson No. 3- If you expect to give your child direction, give honey first. Watch and listen to them to discover what they do well.
More tips for parents to come, stay tuned please and boy, I would love some comments.