Tips for Practicing Piano
Parents: You can support your child's progress by checking up on their practice assignment and by participating in active listening (see below). Each day, before, during and/or after practice, go over the list of tasks on their current assignment. Ask to hear the student play one or two items and follow with some encouraging comments and/or questions.
Practice is essential to making progress. Because of the nature of brain function, a regular daily practice routine is much more effective than one cramming session the day before the lesson. An excellent system for practicing is to begin the practice with a different part of the assignment each day. For instance, if the first task is a scale, second task is Minuet, and third task is Pink Panther, on the first day run through all tasks in order. Second day, play Minuet, then Pink Panther, then the scale. On the third day, begin with Pink Panther, then the scale, and Minuet, et cetera. This way, no part of the week's assignment is neglected.
Rhythm, which is primarily learned by counting, is JUST AS IMPORTANT as notes in music. The counting of a piece should be worked on from the very beginning of learning a new piece.
Here is a great article about practicing; although the title is about overcoming performance nerves, the practice guidelines are excellent: chrisdann.com.