I have parents of my students do no have a music background and they are not sure how to help their child. I know this can be very frustrating! The most important thing you can do whether you have a music background or not is to "get involved" with their practicing. Here are some very, very basic and easy steps to help. A Novel could be written just on "How to Practice" but in a "tiny nutshell" this is what they need to be doing when new pieces are assigned.
- Read the assignments that have been written for them in their binder
- Sit with them at the piano and make sure they are practicing the things that have been assigned to them, especially my new and younger students (12 and under) to make sure they are doing everything assigned in their notebook and practicing properly
- Identify Familiar concepts- Time and Key signatures, Note and Rest values, Melodic and Harmonic intervals, Fingerings, Accidentals, Hand-over-hand crossing, Symbols like 8va, fermatas, legato phrasing, pedaling accents, staccato markings etc.
- Identify new concepts that your teacher has taught you about your piece
- Practice LEFT HAND SLOW- 5 X Correct - Small sections 1 to 4 measures at a time
- Practice RIGHT HAND SLOW - 5 X Correct - Small sections 1 to 4 measures at a time
- Practice HANDS TOGETHER - SUPER SLOW - 5 -10 x CORRECT - Small sections 1 to 4 measures at a time
- The key words are SLOW and CORRECT (which means everything correct --counting dynamics, notes, fingering and repetition in SMALL SECTIONS
- Students should practice everything 3 to 5 times in a row every day until what they are working on has been mastered
- Praise them, for a job well done!
- Have them write their "honest" practice time down for the day on their assignment sheet
- If there is something you, or your child does not understand, don't worry about it, we will help them when they come for their next lesson Below is a website link to a website called How To Practice. It is a GOLD MINE filled with valuable tips on practicing http://www.howtopractise.com/
The two most important things your child should be doing every week is: Technique and Theory, and yet those are the very two things most students neglect to do.
It all starts with Technique. Technique "builds the hand" to do wonderful and fancy "tricks" on the piano! Technique -- All that music is made from is: Arpeggios, Scales, and Chords. If they don't practice Technique (Technic Chart, Finger Power, Treasures in Technique, Hannon, whatever they use), music will always be a challenge and difficult to play.
Theory helps them understand what is in their music: rhythm, harmony, melody, form, structure etc. If they don't do Theory, music will always be a challenge and difficult for them to understand the "How, Where, What, and Why" of music.
With all this being said, I try to be very sensitive and not assign more than a student can handle in one week. If that should happen, you as parent can make adjustments to your child's "assignments" (not practice time) -- as long as "quality practice" at the piano has been done.
I really appreciate any questions that you have for me and I am so happy to help in anyway I can! We all benefit by helping each other!
Music is the very best gift you can ever give your child!