It may be that the most important thing I teach my students is how to practise.

Parents often ask me how long their children should be practising. The quality of practising is more important than the quantity.

When children are young, six or seven years old, and just beginning their experience with music lessons my advise is as follows.

  1. Encourage your child to spend time at their instrument every day. Establishing a routine creates a habit of playing.
  2. Sit with them and guide them in their practising. Whether you can play the piano or not, your company and your encouragement really helps.
  3. The beginner student is also learning the instrument itself. Take some time before looking at the pieces to review the keyboard, find all the C’s, play and name C D E from the bottom to the top of the keyboard, and so on. This can be turned into a game and create a fun engaging mood.
  4. Sing. Use the voice as often as possible. The voice and the ear are connected. Sing note names to strengthen reading, count beats to develop rhythmic constructs, sing fingerings to secure the physical connection, sing the words, make up your own words!
  5. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Practising a small moment in the music gets the information into the head, the hands and the ears. It is also important to go slowly with the objective of getting it right, every time.
  6. Keep the practise session reasonably short and allow for some exploration and creative play. The process of learning to play the piano is incredibly complex. Combining reading skills with a physical response and applying it to an instrument that also needs to be understood, takes patience and time. ten to fifteen minutes of focused learning will go a long way.