Six Innovative Ways to get Your Child to -- yech! -- Practice

Don't call it "practice." Practice is what a lawyer or a doctor does and it usually costs you a lot of money. "Play" is a better word to use. "Play" is free and fun. Doesn't "Justin, did you play the piano today?" sound better than "Justin, did you practice the piano today?" Try using "play."

Don't have the piano in a quiet, remote spot of the house. One of the best things about playing the piano is that you can do it alone. One of the worst things about playing the piano is that you have to be alone to do it. Keep the piano close to a traffic area in the house so that the child doesn't feel so isolated.

Don't be rigid about "playing" time. What you want is quality, focused time at the piano, and that may be in short bursts of attention, throughout the day. It's not necessary to do all the day's playing in one 30-minute session. It can be broken up.

Encourage the time after dinner and before bed for piano enjoyment. Those are good, unwinding times for family playing, listening, and sharing piano music.

Allow your child to play many types of music, even if you don't like it. Every generation has its own sounds. Appreciation of the classics sometimes takes a lifetime. If playing the "best of Pearl Jam" (an oxymoron?) keeps him at the piano, don't knock it.

As a last resort, start taking piano lessons yourself. Ironically, when parents start piano lessons after their children have refused to practice, the adults' playing attracts the kids to the piano like butterflies to sassafras. Now they want to play, just when it's your time to practice. So do it together!

Welcome to Pumping Ivory

Pumping Ivory is an attempt to help you sit down at the piano and have fun. If it also nurtures your latent desire to make beautiful sounds at the keyboard-that's all right, too!

We at PHRED PIANO EXPRESSION feel that most piano teaching methods are hopelessly out-dated and BORING. Playing the piano is not brain surgery. It is not public housing. That's serious stuff. Playing the piano should be "cheerious" stuff. It should be fun and easy and we hope Pumping Ivory will help make it so.

Is It Ever Too Late For An Adult with Pianist Envy?

Never! Studies show that learning a new skill keeps the mind young and vital, and holds the effects of aging at bay. So if you're 50, or even older, take heart. You could have more than 30 years of piano enjoyment in store.
For most adults, pianist envy kicks in at the 40-something level. As mid-life beckons, the kids need less attention, and the feeling of "now or never" oozes from every pore. It's also a time when many parents decide to take advantage of the piano that is sitting untouched because it's been abandoned by the children.

There are, admittedly, downsides to beginning to learn to play later in life. Adults will usually set more limitations on themselves than younger people. Because of their life experience, they think they know what they can and cannot do. Also, adults sometimes have a difficult time adjusting their social calendar to allow practice time.

On the upside, adults more readily express the joy they feel when they make music at the piano. They don't take it for granted. Noah Adams, in his highly recommended book, Piano Lessons asks on page one, "why does a 51-year-old man decide he has to have a piano?" The answer, 248 delightful pages later is, "You can be sitting there and play a phrase, and suddenly there's beauty". Amen.

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