If your child has suffered from having poor lessons in the past be prepared for the fact that much of the initial time spent with your new teacher may be spent undoing the damage that has been done and getting the pupil out of bad habits that they have been allowed to form. Even if your last teacher did a relatively good job of educating your child there may still be some areas of musicianship that have not been covered in enough detail and there might still be some holes in your child's musical experience that it will be necessary to fill. This may mean going over some material that has already been covered, in the initial stages to help build a solid foundation on which real progress can be made.
Encourage Your Child As Much As Possible
Be sure to praise effort as well as accomplishment. Even if your child does not learn as fast as another, in the long run, hard work will determine the final result. There is no better way to bring about the hard work than to reward the effort. Try to express interest in what your child is doing, even if you are getting tired of hearing "Chopsticks". Encourage your child in every way possible to perform for family and friends in relaxed settings. Avoid Negative Criticism. Most of us respond better to thoughtful, loving help than undirected criticism. If your child seems uncooperative, it may mean that they need more help, encouragement, and support. Punishment is usually not a long-term solution.
Make Sure Your Child Knows That You Consider Music a Serious Commitment
Schedule piano practice time for your child just as regularly as you do sports practice or homework. See to it that practice sessions are as free as possible from distractions. If the piano is in the living room, try to limit access to the living room during your child's allotted practice time. If you find the child's interest in lessons waning, the best thing to do it to discuss the problem with your child's teacher; often, this can be solved with proper stimulation and supervision by you and the teacher working together. Everything that is possible to sustain your child's interest in music in the early years should be done.
Provide As Much Cultural Enrichment As Possible
Many parents believe that just by having a 30 minute lesson once a week, their child should make massive progress on their instrument. This is simply not the case. Much hard work is needed on the part of the pupil and music needs to play an important part in other areas of their life. The experience of listening to music without the pressure of having to play the notes correctly can add greatly to your child's appreciation for music generally and lessons in particular. Go to concerts with your children whenever possible. Introduce your children to the works of the masters by playing the music in your home. These days, computer technology, has made it possible to explore great music in a way that is fun for the entire family.
Suggested Practice Techniques
You can learn faster and easier if you do a few simple things. These suggestions are not time-consuming and easily carried out if you schedule time for them in your day on a regular basis.
Take the time to read your child's set practice directions, the specific assignments and practice suggestions are intended to assist in practice. Try to understand yourself what your child is being asked to do. If you do not understand ask if you may sit in for the last 5 or 10 minutes of a lesson.
When practicing, please make sure that the environment is free from distractions and noise. Turn off the TV, put the answering machine on, and give yourself a quiet environment to work.
Make sure the music is legible; in other words, make sure you have enough light.
Set aside a specific time each day for your work at the piano, and stick to the schedule.
If you are a morning person, practice in the morning. Avoiding or delaying getting to the piano will just make you run out of time.
Unlike studying for tests or exams, piano practice cannot be crammed in at the last minute or day before the lesson. Plan the time to do practice every day.
Take the suggestions from your teacher seriously. After long years of training and teaching experience, chances are your teachers suggestions prove successful, if followed.
If possible, participate in concerts and recitals at your own school or music center. If your child is not playing in a school music concert or other musical event take your child anyway so they may listen to what other people the same age are doing. So much can be learned by performing yourself and listening to others perform.
Attend as many recitals and concerts as possible. Given the large number of musical organizations sponsoring concerts there is ample opportunity to hear music. Again, the more that you hear, the more of an idea of the musical concepts you can get Read biographies of composers, performing artists and conductors. Also, rent movies that are related to the lives of musicians. There are so many wonderful movies and books readily available, that really no one has the excuse not to know more about the composers, their lives and music.
Obtain a musical dictionary. The dictionary will give the meaning of the Italian terms, for example, Allegro vivace or Molto espressivo , which are used in the score to indicate how the piece of music should be played and how it should sound. You'll find your playing of the music will improve faster if you understand how the composer meant the music to sound in the first place. If you play the piano and you do not have access to a drum machine, as you would on a keyboard, get a metronome.
How serious might you be about your instrument in the future?
A student who decides at the age of 15 or 16 to get serious about music will find themselves up the proverbial creek without a paddle and stands little or no chance of obtaining a place at any good school for music. There is no way that all this material can be learned in one or two years. The learning of this music is a process that may begin as young as 5 years old, even if the student is not totally decided to make the commitment to a college career in music. This is why many music teachers complain when students want to take an entire summer off from their instrument. Summer is the ideal time to get a lot of material learned, memorized and ready to perform, so that the stress level when school is in progress will be a lot lower, especially when trying to not be a piano bench potato while doing sports and doing well in school.
It takes a commitment of hundreds of hours of time for the teacher, student, and parents to get a student fully prepared for college admissions auditions and the chance to get to a good music college.
The 15 or 16 year old beginner has left it far too late to think about getting serious about music, if the student hopes to move on to study at a good Music College.