Keeping Students Focused in Piano Lessons

This week, most of my students are finishing their last couple days of school, and let me tell you, they are ready! They’re ready to sleep in,  play outside, and pretty much do everything except sit and focus during music lessons.

While I totally understand wanting to mentally check out as soon as the weather outside starts getting warmer, I still want my students to stay motivated, no matter the season. In this blog post, I want to share some tips and tricks that have helped my students remain engaged-even when it’s hard. 

Get Creative

I often supplement music theory concepts with hands-on learning. This may include:

  • Coloring to encourage rhythm concepts and dancing to encourage musical expression
  • Encourage students to tap into their imagination when it comes to routine exercises
  • Pretend that the black keys on the piano are “mattresses” the fingers are “sleeping on” to encourage finger placement as well as fluid motor movement. It’s a great way to get students to approach technical skills and practicing in a fun way. 

Divide Lessons Into Smaller Chunks

The range of my students’ attention span can be anywhere from a full 45 minutes to a measly 2 minutes.

To maintain engagement with my students who have a hard time focusing for longer periods of time, I often lay out a schedule that can consist of different lesson activities lasting 3-10 minutes each.

I then set goals for the lesson and if the schedule is completed, the student gets to earn a small reward (A lot of my students are huge sticker fans).

Offer Choices

Sometimes, at the end of a lesson, there might be an extra five minutes. I like to add choices of fun things to do!  This may include:

  • Improvising a piece of their own
  • Playing a favorite piece that they’ve played in the past
  • Giving them a choice of what song they want to play next

This is very effective in honoring the students’ creativity but also getting them to take more ownership of their lesson, which hopefully will translate to more enjoyment of music for the long haul!

Laura Tam | Music Therapy Connections | Springfield, Illinois

Those are all my tips for now! As I continue to teach, I always have to remind myself that every student is unique and is learning at their own pace. I love that each week I get to learn new ways to help my students grow and achieve their goals.

If you or someone you know is interested in music lessons, summer is a great time to ease into lessons and try it out!

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