Children are refreshingly teachable and have a way of making everything more exciting. Every day is filled with learning opportunities, and we have the privilege to be a part of it.

The challenge of getting a young child to focus on something for more than five minutes is a real one. Even when something interests and excites your child to no end, a strange noise or bird flying by the window suddenly brings that learning opportunity to a quick halt. Let’s face it, not every kid is a protege or a child genius. Does that mean we should give up on introducing structured music lessons until our children memorize their time’s tables? No! Take a minute to read through these quick and easy tips to help children really FOCUS and succeed at the piano.

1. Minimize distractions.

To the best of your abilities, minimize distractions.  Close the blinds if practicing near a window, turn off the TV and computer, move bright/colorful pictures out of sight, etc. Kids can’t help it if something different catches their attention.  So run interference! 😉

2. Schedule short practice sessions.

Reduce practice time to no more than 10-15 minutes.  Take into consideration the capabilities of your individual child. (Keep in mind that siblings won’t always be able to do the same amount.) Studies have shown that more frequent, short practice sessions are much more productive, and they will end their practice time with less frustration.

3. Set a timer.

Young children are very concrete thinkers. If you tell them they need to sit and practice long enough to “get it” they will feel like there is no finish line, and may refuse to even start. Try setting a timer for 10 minutes, maybe even allow them to choose the sound that will go off when their time is up, and they will feel much more in control of their practice time.

4. Set goals.

Talk to your child about setting short-term goals for themselves.  Your child’s teacher should be providing an assignment sheet every week with a specific challenge that they can reach. Make it a point to focus on that challenge at least one practice session each week, and then let them take control and decide what they want to accomplish. Even very young ones can do this, and it will make them more invested in their personal learning process.

5. Use a stool.

It may sound strange, but try putting a footstool under their feet while sitting on the piano bench. Ever notice how wiggly a child who can’t reach the floor gets? A piano is a very large instrument, and allowing them to ground their feet helps them to feel like they fit better, making them more comfortable. And bonus: this will help encourage proper form from the start!

-Hannah Stewart (Bravo Employee)