It is still early days, but I am seeing some changes in El’s attitude towards piano. After I had posted the post on how it is a struggle to get my child to practise piano on Facebook, many friends gave suggestions on how they get their children to practise.
I think after the concert, he finally saw the rationale. There were opportunities to perform and entertain. He had stated he wanted to perform at the next concert. With a purpose, there was meaning in the lessons. After telling his teacher, she said she might hold a mini concert at her other home to encourage her students to play more.
I guess he needs to see it as a social activity. Some friends have suggested letting him go for group music lessons, but I do not have the time to go for the lessons together, so I will just continue to have individual classes for him.
I encourage him to practise every day by asking him to play a song a day. That would take less than five minutes on a few occasions. This is a trick that I have learnt. When you want children to do something you want, you give them choices that both point to the same result. I ask him whether he wants to practise the first song, or the second song. Both options mean he will play the piano.
In the beginning, I had to coax him that I would only require 3 minutes of his time to practise a song. His attention span is still pretty short, so as long as he goes through one song relatively well, I let it go. The accuracy and precision can come later.
I am also making use of benefits. If he plays the piano, he can do something. Usually he gets to do almost everything he wants, so it was a little hard to implement at first. However, it worked when the reward was something he wanted to do.
Next, I make use of extrinsic rewards. I give him stickers on a few occasions when I feel that he has played well. He is very proud of them. However, I do not want him to ask for them as ultimately, intrinsic motivation is more important. Just recently, he discovered the type of stickers I had, and he asked for a crocodile and a gazelle for practising two songs. He immediately stuck them on his water bottle. I hope he will not demand them every time he practises.
I also praise him directly, and in front of others, when I discover he has managed to move on to new pieces. He came back with a big sticker on one of his pieces, and I pointed that out. He was very pleased.
He was reaching the end of the book, and there was a graduation song at the back. I went through that song with him, and told him that he was graduating from book 1, and going on to book 2, just like how he has graduated from nursery, and is moving on to k1. My mother told me that he played the song on his own during class, and did not want the teacher to help him. He was also able to move forward to new songs in a week, instead of taking many weeks because he did not practise.
Perhaps, I think it helps also that songs in the book became more tuneful towards the end, as they start playing more notes. He is currently able to play C-G with both hands.
I think the greatest joy when I see him rush to the piano when we go to my parents’ place. He would climb up to the seat, and play. Just two days ago, when I came home from work, I took out his book and expressed delight that he had moved on to the new book. He had learnt two new songs, so I asked him whether he would like to play them for me. To my surprise and joy, he played them on his own.
As a mother, I have to set routines for him. It is really hard because I only see him for a short period of time during dinner, but I cannot shirk my responsibilities. I am constantly learning and improving myself. I am glad for the December holidays because I got to accompany him to the lessons, and see for myself how exactly he was faring. Only then was I able to make changes.
Like I have said, it is still early days, but like what his teacher told my mother, he is like a budding flower. I only wish that I do not get any constant interference from other people that may hinder his progress.