The Power of Your Presence
If your final goal is to instill love and enjoyment of music in your child, it is essential for someone to be physically present and involved during their practice and learning experience. At 5 years old, being sent alone to practice the piano may be perceived as a form of unnecessary punishment. It can bring on feelings of isolation, and create resentment and disinterest in music. The social interaction and presence of another person during a child's practice session is psychologically and emotionally needed to instill enjoyment and future long term independence in music. The songs may be fun, the practice might be relatively easy but none of this will matter if they are sent to do it alone.
The younger the child, the more involved a parent should be to ensure their growth at the instrument. Many piano teachers will not accept young students unless the parent is there learning right there along with them.
Always be positive and mindful of what you say during practice sessions. Every mistake can be perceived as either a failure or an opportunity for greater success.
Example: if your child uses the wrong finger for a passage. You may think or be tempted to say:
“Thats wrong. Use number 1, not number 2.”
But a better option would be to lead them on a path of discovery with questions and positive words to help them express and practice what they learned.
Kids love to show how much they know! Most mistakes that occur during practice are not a result of them not knowing the correct answers. Often times they just need to be guided in the right direction. Instead of telling them all the answers, let them show you in a few basic steps. In the example of finger numbers, you may ask them to show you all the numbers. Success. Then ask them to tell you which number they are supposed to use. Success. Then have them do it. Another point of success. Telling them all the right answer takes away an opportunity for them to learn, for them to easily avoid that same mistake in the future, and for them to feel a sense of accomplishment and success.
Jodi Russell, B.M.,M.M.,NCTM