Staying Focused During Home Practice
Over the past few weeks, I certainly have had difficulty staying focused on a daily routine, and I have had to put extra effort into helping students and families stay focused with routine piano practice. I had the fortune of presenting at a MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) national symposium in January, and two of my classmates and I gave a presentation about strategies for teaching students with ADHD. While researching this topic, we found a number of strategies that can help students of all ages, whether or not they have been diagnosed with ADHD.
Here are some tips about how to limit distractions in the home environment. I like to think of practice as a meditative process in order to keep my routine consistent and enjoyable. These strategies are adapted from an article by Kathleen Melago about teaching strategies for students with ADD/ADHD.
Clocks: Ticking clocks can throw off a students rhythm! Make sure only digital clocks are in the practice room.
Noise from others: White noise can sometimes be helpful when practicing, but sudden loud noises will always be distracting. Designate quiet times and avoid interjecting during piano lessons or focused practice time.
Windows: As pleasant as your view can be, scenery and passerby can be distracting. Direct sunlight and fluctuations in temperature from being near a window can also damage pianos. Place the keyboard on a wall that doesn’t face a window.
Decorations: In my various teaching and practice spaces, I have to consider whether the educational benefit poster/photo/painting will outweigh the distraction. Try to keep a practice room relatively plain with decorations.
Even Smells Can Sidetrack!
Aromas: An overlooked distraction factor, you will want to avoid scented candles, air fresheners, and cooking meals during practice time and piano lessons.
Hopefully after making these changes to potential distractions, you will have a much easier time staying focused during home practice.