One of the most common mistakes beginning piano students make is practicing what they already know over and over. I don’t mind them playing songs over and over they know well from top to bottom. That means they are having fun, which is actually great. Let me explain what I mean instead.
When you observe a child practicing you will probably notice that he wants to play those passages that already sound pretty good rather than working on those he doesn’t know well yet. By the way, we adults have the tendency to do the same.
THat’s why the first thing I teach my students is not to always start at the beginning of the piece they are working on. It takes persistency on the teacher’s and the parent’s part to get this into a child’s head, but it is well worth the effort.
Dear Parent: Please remind the child to begin practicing from different measures until she does it on her own.
Children that don’t follow this strategy often get stuck further down in the piece and are not able to perform a piece well in its entirety, which ultimately leads to frustration.
Tip: The reason why they don’t like starting in the middle of a song is often because they don’t know where the fingers go and which finger to use, unless they start from the very beginning and play up to that measure. The teacher or parent can help by indicating the fingering and note names at the beginning of significant starting points in the piece. Eventually the child will be able to write in the fingering and note names for those bars.
Tip: Mark up a new piece by dividing it up into smaller practice segments. Number the different segments randomly and ask the student to follow the order of the number when practicing. When monitor you child remind them not to start practicing from the first bar, but instead working on a different segment every time they start practicing.