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Practice Tips: A Guide for Parents to Foster Positive Practice Habits at Home

Including FREE digital resources to print at home!

Music Collective Scotland Practice Chart with colourful musical notes and piano graphics.

One of the most common questions we receive from parents is how to encourage their children to practice music between lessons. Regular engagement with lesson material significantly impacts a child's musical progress. Any support provided at home to cultivate good practice habits not only benefits musical development but also enhances broader learning and skill acquisition. Here are some considerations to help you nurture these positive habits:

1. Parental Expectations

It's important not to expect beginners to be self-motivated to practice; this skill develops at different ages for each child. Efficient and independent practice is a challenging skill that takes years and maturity to master. Some parents may assume that because their children receive music tuition, they should instinctively know how to practice at home. However, practice is a skill that can be actively developed over time. Let's explore how you can facilitate this process.

2. Little and Often

Practicing regularly in short bursts is more effective than having one extended session per week. Try to incorporate practice into the weekly routine, such as before school or before dinner. Once it becomes part of the family schedule, it will develop into a habit that is easy to maintain. Consider your child's age and stage when determining the appropriate practice duration. For beginners or young learners, 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times a week, is sufficient to reinforce learning materials. Older children or those preparing for examinations should aim for 20-30 minutes, 3-4 times a week. As your child's attention span grows, gradually increase practice frequency before extending practice time. If you're uncertain about the ideal practice duration for your child, consult their tutor for guidance.

3. Incentives

While self-motivation develops with progress and learning, rewards and incentives can be effective for younger children. For example, my seven-year-old son, who is learning piano at a grade 1 standard, often needs encouragement to practice. I've found that offering him practice time in exchange for screen time works well. Setting a timer for short, focused practice sessions has also proved helpful.

4. Goals

Setting achievable goals for each practice session can help maintain focus and highlight small accomplishments. Goals could be as simple as mastering a few bars of a piece or learning a new scale. Larger goals, such as preparing for music exams or performing in school concerts or studio sessions, can provide motivation and a sense of purpose.

5. Use a Practice Diary

Some children benefit from visual aids, such as practice diaries or reward charts, to track their progress and work towards rewards. These tools introduce children to the concept of goal-setting and encourage perseverance and a sense of achievement. Here are some free practice charts available for printing at home with two different styles and different colours and instruments to suit your child's preferences!

Music Collective Scotland Practice Chart with table for weeks and days of the week. Box to total the number of days practiced. Decorated with music notes and stars.


MCS Practice Chart - Month
Download PDF • 5.78MB

Practice chart - Multi - Instrument
Download PDF • 20.02MB

Remember, cultivating effective practice habits is a gradual process that requires patience, encouragement, and consistency. By implementing these strategies, you can create a supportive environment that nurtures your child's musical growth and development.

Nicole Tonner - BMus, PGDE

Music Collective Scotland Director and Educator


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