Piano Lessons for Kids: Tips for Motivating Students

Joy's student Ellie pratices the pianoOur Los Angeles piano teacher Joy A. has several years of experience working with young music students, and recently sent us this article to share some of her favorite tips for motivating students. Enjoy!


Let’s face it – learning to play music is hard, and we all have days when we want to quit. I’ll admit that when I was a kid, I quit my music lessons more than once. As music teachers, it’s our job to help our students continue to love music, even when they feel discouraged and want to give up.  Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years to help students stay encouraged with music.

1. Ditch the Lesson Book. Some kids love the structure lesson books provide, while other kids loathe the dreaded books.  As educators, it is our job to figure out what works best for each student.  I’ve always had the philosophy that if a lesson book is making a student dread music class, it’s time to find a different approach.  Some kids love to play Disney songs, others love Taylor Swift, and some of my students even play Miles Davis.  As a teacher, I am constantly working to find the best possible material for each student so they can grow as musicians.

2. Play Pots and Pans not Piano! Yes, you heard me – pots and pans and other household items make great instruments!  Ever tried to play a bunch of syncopated beats on a frying pan?   It’s hard, but it’s also incredibly fun!  One of my most promising students came in saying she was having a “pain-o” day.  Instead of forcing her to drag her way through the prepared lesson, we collected pots and pans from my kitchen, and played percussion ensemble for the entire lesson.  Sure my neighbors were less than thrilled, but it was just what she needed to feel like music was fun again. She later even used some of the rhythms we played around with to compose a piece on the piano!

3. Encourage Students to Write Music. Some students are great at reading notes off the page, others are great improvisers, and some love to compose and write their own songs. Encouraging creativity and individuality is a great way to keep a student loving music!  I like to help students record their songs and create CD’s to give out as gifts. They love it!

4. Put on a Show. Everyone needs a goal!  Even though recitals can be a little nerve racking, I’ve always been amazed at how happy and motivated students are when they come in the week after the performance! Many of my students ask when they get to do the next recital. Last year, several students came in incredibly excited and inspired to learn pieces they had heard other students perform.

Best of luck with your lessons in the new year!

Joy A.

Joy A

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