How To Stay On Top Of Your Piano Homework, by Donna Maurer

If you are taking beginner piano classes, you may be unaware that there is such a thing as “homework” that comes along with your learning, just like you would have in a class at school. Sometimes piano teachers like to give students some music theory books to work with, or scales to study as well as the songs that you are learning to develop your talent. This can seem a daunting task, especially if you have a busy schedule already, but it is necessary to take the time to study and learn these skills.

So, how do you stay on top of the homework? We can outline some ways that will help you utilize your time best to make sure that your homework gets done every week:

Get Organized

The major part of the homework will be actually learning the piece or pieces that you’re trying to play. You’ll need to set aside some time, preferably every day, to practice on your piano or keyboard at home so that you can learn the piece and continually improve at playing it. Get yourself organized in a way that you can do this so that it’s easier for you to train yourself to incorporate giving yourself the time you need. Get yourself a planner, or put it in your phone if you have to so that you can remind yourself. Even if you can only set aside 15-20 mins a day, find that time in your day and schedule it. Write it down in a free daily planner or put it in your phone’s calendar so that you stick to the time you set aside for yourself to actually practice. Writing it down is a more preferred method because if you write something down you are more likely to follow through with it. And if you don’t practice, you won’t get better at the piano - it really is that simple. It is so easy to become distracted, especially if you’re older and have more responsibilities such as a job or kids. The key is to give yourself a routine that you can stick to - it is really important that you make sure you give yourself the time to practice!

Don’t Wait

You’ve heard the saying “procrastination is a sin…..” and it definitely pertains to this or any job that you have to do. The longer you put it off, the sooner you’ll end up finding yourself back at your next lesson having not done your homework. That can be embarrassing for you as a student and for your teacher, because believe it or not your teacher can tell when you haven’t practiced, and it sets you back a week every time you fail to complete your homework, practice and get better at the piano. So, don’t put your practice on the back burner. Even if that means you tackle it immediately after your lessons every week so that you stay on top of it, then do it that way! If that’s the only time you can set aside or hold yourself accountable to make sure that you get it done.

Break It Down & Start Easy

When you actually sit down to practice, give yourself the time to work up to the more difficult piano pieces. Break it down into smaller chunks, and start yourself out with a piece or task that is easy to tackle and practice, before giving yourself something harder. You can even start with your easy theory or scales just to get warmed up; find a method that works best for you that will help you along. It may take a few attempts to get there, but once you do you’ll find it easier to incorporate the break down into your learning. This also helps with not getting discouraged or giving up on going through all of your pieces so that you make sure you’re giving yourself time with each one. It will give you the confidence you need to power through to the tougher stuff.

Set Goals & Reward Yourself

If you give yourself an incentive to get through your homework, this can also be a great help for you to stay on top of it and get it done sooner. Even if it’s just something small to reward yourself after you’re done, like maybe you’ve been looking forward to going out to eat, or you want to go out shopping and get yourself something special. You can take anything and make that your reason for getting through your piano homework first. Playtime outside, your favorite TV show, a nice glass of wine, there are many different things you can utilize to reward yourself. This allows you to keep yourself from putting the homework off and getting it done in a way that gives you a great feeling when you finish since you know you’ll have a reward waiting - a real win-win!

These are some very simple and easy things to implement when you’re struggling with staying on top of your piano homework. Make things easier on yourself and start with the more simple tasks, make sure you’re planning that time to get your practicing done, don’t procrastinate and make sure to give yourself an incentive to get it done. The most important lesson here is that you don’t want to wait for a “better time” because you will end up putting off the work. It is work, but it can be very enjoyable and by being organized with your time and setting yourself up for success through these tools and tips, you will stay on top of your piano homework with ease.

-Donna Maurer