Please Bang on the Piano!

Do you wish that your child only made beautiful sounds while practicing?  Most people want their children to learn excellent practicing habits.  For some parents, that means moving through the order of scales and pieces with efficiency and focus, always improving, correcting, and honing.  When our children practice the “right way,” we are proud of their progress and consider the cost of lessons to be money well spent.

What to do when your kid bangs on the piano

What if your child occasionally (or often) takes a detour from the practice schedule and bangs away at random keys?  Sliding fingers up and down the keyboard, or deliberately playing notes together that don’t harmonize well?  Perhaps playing a pattern repetitively, over and over and over, or deliberately leaving all of the sharps and flats out of a piece learned?  Then pressing down all the low keys at once while stepping on the sustain pedal and it sounding like a horror movie?

Some parents might be tempted to shout “Stop banging on the piano!”  The wiser parent, however, knows better:  fooling around on the piano is actually an important part of your child’s music education and should be encouraged, in addition to more structured practice time.

Three reasons to encourage your child to sound . . . well . . .  awful.

Your child is exercising creativity

They are thinking outside of the box, and considering the possibility that music may also exist apart from what is written in their music books.  Art is about taking risks, and your child is taking a risk by experimenting with sound.  The single most important factor distinguishing a great composer from a good musician, for example, is originality– desire to produce something new and different.  A willingness to do more than copy others, to make mistakes and to try something new is the cornerstone of the creative personality.

They are learning what their instrument can do

Think of the piano as a complex machine.  Your child’s familiarity and comfort level with the piano expands every time they discover some new sound it is capable of.  What happens when you press down all three pedals?  When you play nothing but the black keys?  What does it sound like when you press down ten keys at once? Your child will be a more versatile player when they know the breadth and limits of what the instrument is capable of.

They are having fun!

Most families who invest in music lessons want their children to stick with it, and enjoyment is an important part of the equation.   Fooling around on the piano allows your child “down” time with music.   They will understand that practicing requires focus, but that sometimes recreation time exists as well.  Your child is more likely to develop a life-long habit of sitting down at the piano if they can relax and have fun with it.

If your child is already banging away at the piano and you want to encourage their interest, check out our group piano classes and private piano lessons.