Your son or daughter is so excited to have an instrument, they love their teacher, and they promise to practice every day. But for some reason it feels like pulling teeth to actually get them playing at home! Here are 7 ways to get the most out of each lesson and get in the habit of practicing.
1. Treat Music Differently than Homework
Finding your favourite music is the key to practice motivation because when you love a song, you’ll be much more likely to put in the time to learn it – every song you learn becomes its own reward! Your child should see music as an enjoyable part of their day and the best way to encourage that is for them to see their practice time as a way to achieve their own goals. If you’re having trouble finding that favourite song, talk with your teacher after a lesson and then try out some pieces with your child and see which ones they gravitate towards! As they learn about their tastes, they’ll naturally explore those songs at home.
2. Create Challenges
Kids need specific tasks. If you just tell them to practice, they won’t know what to do. Small goals, such as “figure out the strum pattern for the chorus and verses” or “memorize the left hand from the beginning to bar 12”, can produce a sense of achievement in practice sessions. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Bite-size challenges can add up quickly, and suddenly they can play the whole song at once. If in doubt, work with your teacher to suggest challenges your child is facing during their lesson.
3. Celebrate with Joy
Of course, you’ll be proud to watch them perform their recitals and concerts, but there is so much to celebrate even before the big show! Take a moment to recognize their little accomplishments and it will keep them feeling positive and motivated during the inevitable plateaus they will face and overcome. Try keeping track of these successes with a chart near their instrument, a whiteboard on the fridge, or even a journal.
4. Give Your Child Control
Give your child a sense of control by letting them determine the practice schedule. Help them make the decision that they want to play more in order to get better, then reinforce the schedule they came up with themselves, and they’ll be more likely to agree to sit down and practice. After all, it was their idea!
5. Plan Performances
When your little one asks “why do I have to practice?” you can get them excited about their next performance and everything that comes with it: the applause, the sense of community, the artistic expression, and the satisfaction. In addition, understanding and acknowledging their pre-performance nerves helps them to develop strategies for future situations, such as presenting a project at school, going to a job interview, and so on.
6. Be Their Biggest Fan
Your child thrives on knowing that you support them, and you are their first audience. Let them know you are their biggest fan by listening to them at home and offering encouragement when you hear music floating through the halls. The more involved you can be, the better! A genuine interest in their progress goes a long way toward helping them feel comfortable practicing and working through the challenges of learning an instrument.
7. Appreciate the Chance to Play
Music can enhance the rest of your child’s life. Remind them that they could play an active role in music-making when their favourite song comes on, if they practice. Finally, tell them how many adults wish they had stuck with their instruments as children, when they had the time to learn.