6 Ways Piano Teachers and Parents Can Encourage Piano Teens

Teens (and Tweens for that matter) these days are so into their digital devices that it can be difficult for a parent to have even a brief conversation with them about ANYTHING, let alone piano! So, why not communicate with them through their devices?

Drag these images to your desktop or save to your phone and text one of them to your teen! This will do at least 2 things – 1)make you look cool and 2)make your teen smile – or at least text you back a smiley face emojii! BONUS – it might just get your teen to practice more!

img_6160img_6161img_6162img_6163img_6164img_6165

How have you been successful with getting your teen to keep playing piano? Tell me in a comment!

10 Surprising Ways Piano Lessons Literally Pay Off

Piano Pays Off

Parents all over the United States are spending countless hours driving their kids to and from sports activities and in many cases juggling football, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, and soccer all at once. These dutiful parents are working hard to insure that their children have the brightest futures possible. Many dedicate endless hours and make quite a financial investment in hopes that their child will qualify for and earn an athletic scholarship to college. They schedule their lives around their child’s sport. They even ask others to schedule their lives around it as well. When the coach calls an unplanned practice or when a game is rescheduled, they ask music teachers and tutors to make accommodations. Maybe YOU are one of these parents. As the parent of a high schooler that is involved in 2 sports I can totally relate. It’s not easy being a parent and certainly not cheap! That is why I want to give you some information that you may not have considered or been aware of when it comes to the real VALUE of an activity that is often not perceived to be as valuable as sports – PIANO.

I am about to tell you from personal experience that YOUR CHILD can earn money with music even while he/she is learning to play the piano. I started taking piano lessons when I was 5 years old. I started making money with music when I was 12 years old. Here is a list of 10 ways your child can do the same thing.

1. Get paid to play at parties and weddings

2. Play or sing in a band with REAL music professionals

3. Get paid to play for a church choir or children’s choir (Churches are ALWAYS looking for good musicians)

4. Write songs for YouTube video backgrounds

5. Teach music at a summer camp

6. Teach music at VBS

7. Enter contests (Some contests pay thousands of dollars)

8. Apply for music scholarships

9. Earn a 4 year scholarship to study music in college (Did you know that athletic scholarships are only guaranteed 1 year at a time? On the other hand, true 4-year scholarships are available for Music!)

10. Provide rehearsal accompaniment for musical theater

This is just a sample of how Piano Lessons Literally Pay Off. I am in no way saying or suggesting that your child will get rich by taking piano lessons. I am saying that there is more value to piano lessons than many realize.

Feel free to leave a comment, especially if there are other ways you are aware of that piano lessons literally pay off.

How to Make Summertime “Piano Time”

Summertime Piano

Hello Kids and Keys Readers! Today’s post is coming to you from Doug Hanvey, an accomplished piano teacher in Portland, OR. Doug also writes his own blog at www.portlandpianolab.com.

Read on for some helpful tips for getting over the summer piano slump!

Summertime is here! But that’s not good news for every piano teacher. Some students may take a break from lessons, and parents may have to be reminded to start up again as fall approaches. How can you continue to engage your students and their parents during the summer so that the dreaded lapse in practicing – and the possibility that some students might end up leaving your studio, having lost momentum – can be avoided?

Have you ever noticed that the way you ask a question determines the possible answers to it? We could take that question as is, or we could go deeper and ask: How could you make your summer lessons so exciting and fulfilling that they’re not only competitive with all the other fun activities kids can choose, but rise to the top?

If you were a kid, and a long, lazy summer were beckoning in front of you, what would keep you excited about continuing your lessons, and even have you bugging your parents to make sure they’d let you keep going?

Every piano studio is different, and every teacher will come up with ideas that reflect the unique qualities of their students, the area they live in, and other factors. Here are a few ideas to use as starting points for your brainstorming.

Take Your Studio Outside

Summertime is outside time. Why not throw a party in your backyard for your students (no parents allowed) with a digital piano or two, and a long extension cord? Include lots of games, both musical and not, yummy food, and let the students play for each other (but no pressure – only if they want to). Suggest they invite their friends. Once their friends see how fun and cool it is to make music under the summer skies, you may gain a new student – or two or three.

Go on a Field Trip

Take your students on a field trip. Their parents will love you for getting them out of their hair for a day or two. Promise lots of fun – this should be more of a social occasion. They will have a blast hanging out with each other (take a couple of parents along to help you out!) while you visit a nearby city to see a concert or other cultural attraction. Along the way of course, keep them entertained with activities, games and surprises that will make the trip a highlight of their summer.

Get Creative

If you were a kid, what would keep you excited and involved with music during the summer? I think it has to do with the way a child relates to music. Is music something they do or is it something they are?

If music is something we do (like homework) and not something that is part of us – that helps define us – how likely is it we’ll stay motivated to play or study during the summer, or even at all? For better or worse, by the time I was 12 music had become a major part of my identity. Playing the piano, but even more so, being creative with music, was a therapeutic and enjoyable way for me to express my individuality. I taught myself how to improvise and compose (formal instruction came later). But what if my music teachers had actually encouraged me to do so and given me direction?

Baseball is fun, and so is camping, but neither is very creative. If you haven’t brought improvising or composing into your studio, why not develop a summer creative group program? Your students meet together each week to learn about improvising and composing and to play creative music games. (You could even combine this with outside activities like the above.)

Towards the end of the summer you could bring in students from a couple other studios – such as a voice studio or percussion studio – for a fun, creative jam. Students who have written their own pieces can perform them. The kids will have a blast, they’ll make new friends, and they will be dying to continue their piano lessons. They may even be the ones nagging their parents about signing up for the fall, so you don’t have to.

These are just a few ideas for making your studio so dynamic and exciting that the idea of quitting lessons during the summer is simply inconceivable.

How do you keep your students enthusiastic about summer lessons? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Doug Hanvey

Doug Hanvey is a piano teacher in Portland, Oregon. His Piano Lab Blog offers cutting-edge tips and ideas for piano teachers and students.

You may also be interested in reading: 

The Music Store Field Trip

Piano Outside

Summer Piano Shorts: Cool Chords

Summer Piano Shorts: Octaves

What To Do After The Lesson: A Checklist For Parents

Parents want to HELP their kids do well in piano but often don’t know how and are pressed for time. As a piano parent myself, I totally get it. So in the spirit of multitasking, here are 4 simple things parents can do in the car on the way home (or headed to the next destination) after lessons.

Just remember the word

H.E.L.P.

Highlights – Ask your child questions about the lesson

Encouragement – Make a positive statement about their piano learning

Let it go – Laugh about something. Anything.

Play – for the first 5 minutes at home have your child play something they started learning at the lesson.

You can print a copy of the checklist here to keep in your car!

 

Let Them Have The Spotlight

Violin

When my son signed up for orchestra at his school a couple of years ago I learned a valuable lesson as a parent. It is a lesson that I believe that piano playing parents who have enrolled their children in piano lessons can benefit from as well. So here it is…

Violin was my son’s instrument of choice that year. He was very excited when we got home from the music store with his brand new violin. I was excited too! I had never played a violin before, but knowing that music is in the musician and not in the instrument, I decided to try playing a simple tune on it. Before my son could get in the house good, I was playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on his violin. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t perfect technique wise, but it was recognizable. I was proud of myself for being able to demonstrate that an instrument is merely a tool in a musician’s hands much like a pen is a tool in a writer’s hands. It doesn’t matter what kind of pen the writer uses – he can still write with it. Just as I was about to pat myself on the back for my musical genius (lol), I looked up to find that my son was less than impressed. In fact, he was upset.

Why was he upset, you may ask? The violin was supposed to be HIS thing, not MY thing! He wanted to impress me with his ability to play the violin and to show me that he could do something that I could not. He didn’t say this to me, but I realized it just from looking at his response. From that moment on, I did not pick up his violin  – at least not when he was home! He went on to qualify for the Honor’s Orchestra by the end of the school year and I went on being grateful that I have a healthy, happy son who is able to enjoy music all on his own!

So, what am I saying to piano playing parents? Let your children take the lead when it comes to whether or not you should play the piano with or for them. Resist the urge to show them that you can play the rest of the song that they just started learning. Give them the joy of inviting you to the piano to play along or sing along, or just listen! They will be much more cooperative because they can own their musical education. Once they feel that sense of ownership, they will be glad to share in many musical experiences with you!

Are You A Piano Parent?

Stickers And Parents Oh My!


This one is an oldie but a goodie for motivating young students. No surprise here, but it’s worth mentioning just in case it’s slipped your mind. I know I had forgotten about the amazing motivational power of stickers until yesterday when one of my preschool piano players showed up for lessons and her mom said it was difficult to get her to practice last week at home.

Enter the amazing stickers! I took a blank piece of paper, folded it in half and told my preschooler that we were going to see if she could fill up the page with stickers. How were we going to do this? Well for each time she played her piece she’d get to put a sticker on.

But no we didn’t stop there! After she played the trouble spots a couple of times I told her I had a suggestion. Why don’t we get her to see if her mom could play it too? Of course she would have to be her mom’s teacher because afterall, I was busy teaching her! She absolutely loved the idea so her mom joined in the lesson and of course she earned stickers as well. Now we had two sticker sheets going! My student was excited to find out that not only would her mom get a sticker for practicing, she would get one also every time her mom played the piece.

Finally I had another suggestion. Why don’t we get you and mom to play it together? And yes, she loved the idea too. What 4 year old doesn’t want to do something special with their mom? The best part was that we recorded them playing and let them listen and judge their playing. Oh and as a bonus it was a perfect opportunity for a new vocabulary word: duet. Now my preschooler chants “a duet is when you do it together”

So what about home practice? Well the sticker sheet went home with a challenge to fill it up completely with no white spaces showing! When she brings it back she will get a something from my treat box. She couldn’t wait to get home and practice – I mean play!

Teachers, how do you get parents involved in the lesson? Parents, how do you get involved in practice at home? Share your wisdom in a comment below!