I hated to practice.
I’m not proud of it, but I gouged deep scratches in our burgundy spinet, thanks to sharp, low-heels on my Mary Janes, and a good, swift kick. I could throw a youngest-child tantrum with the best of them. You see, I’m from a long line of tenacious women. A less-kind description would be stubborn.
I thank God that my mother didn’t give up on me. Yet, when the time was right, my parents allowed me to move my musical gifts into an instrument that seemed less-lonely to this extrovert. My first instrument is my voice. I found it much easier to practice voice by myself, as I knew performance was more communal for me; I got to sing with others.
My mother’s tenacity, however, taught me to stick with the commitments I’d made; she made sure I practiced...even when it was exceedingly lonely. I’m pretty sure I avoided practice at all costs. I remember one time when she interrupted a deep conversation between me and my 4-H hogs, only to drag me out of the pigpen to practice my piano. I was only successful at music because I was smart and didn’t want to disappoint those adults in my life with whom had my best interest at heart.
If you have a “Nancy NeverPractice” in your household, I wonder why? Is she not engaged with the music assigned to her? Is she not interested? Is she so social that practicing alone gnaws at her heart and soul? You see, Nancy NeverPractice, turns into Leslie LoseInterest, who in turn becomes Kylie Quitter*. However, even Sally Socialite needs to learn to sit with her own thoughts. It’s a valuable skill.
Does your child "forget” to practice the piano?
Maybe she does ... but maybe she doesn’t. Many are simply so busy with ballet, soccer, school, dinner, playdates, carpooling, homework… that finding time is difficult. Busy schedules are one thing. But, for now, let’s deal with the issue at hand...addressing the real reason they’re not practicing and helping to right that!
Many extracurricular activities simply require the child to attend one or two times a week where their “practice” is completely supervised, structured and directed. “Practice” is not at home where there are other distractions calling them, and they will be “alone.”
When you think about it, you and I are asking a lot from a small child to practice day in and day out with the mentality that “some day, if I practice enough, I will improve.” Let’s be honest, many (read, most) children don’t have the maturity to appreciate, understand, or furthermore, do not know how to do anything about these thoughts!
Practice + Play
Kids today have so many distractions. And, along with society’s media distractions have come a sort of Microwave Mentality. You’ve heard this term, it’s not new. So, spending hours in the darkest, coldest room of the house, playing a boring drill that is printed on faded black and white paper, just isn’t going to cut it.
So, if you wonder why I introduce games and creative “off the page” activities, this is why. If music does not engage, and does not speak a child’s language, they will become Leslie LoseInterest, and eventually enter the morgue of “Kylie Quitters” who could have found a voice in music, but did not.
Be my eyes and ears.
I beg you to be my partner in eliminating any “Nancyness” in your student. Help me, help them find something, anything musical that helps them find a voice through music. Remember the first day that she walked into the studio? She was so eager to learn to play the piano. What has changed? Have she developed other interests? Do too many other distractions cause her to “forget” to practice? Do I need to push her harder in lessons? Often, students drag on in piano lessons, not progressing, because they don’t want to disappoint me. How much would I rather, however, that this student musically thrive because she does not want to disappoint herself.
*Thank you www.teachpianotoday.com for coining these delightful names!