One of the biggest problems we here from parents is, “How do I get my child to practice?”
Let’ face it. Not every kid is going to be into practicing on their own, especially the first 3-6 month of lessons. While practice does make students progress faster, students will continue to progress on a weekly basis by just coming to their lessons.
Here are some practice tips to use with your child:
1. Do not nag your child about practicing. The more we nag, the more kids fight back. We also do not want them to feel like practicing is a chore. Let them enjoy the process in their own time.
2. Share in practice time with your child. We know everyone is very busy these days, but children often are encouraged by the love and attention of their parents. Asking your child to show you what they did at their lesson today will help solidify what they did in their lessons and provide a quick practice and bonding opportunity at home. Tell them how much you love hearing them play music and how proud you are of their accomplishments.
3. Take little steps with practice time. A child should not practice longer than their age unless they are really into it or they choose to practice longer on their own. Starting out with 5-10 minutes 1-3 times a week is a good start. If you can get your child to practice once a week, that is better than no practice at all. Children, like adults, need to get into a routine, let them build up their practice time slowly.
4. Give them a reason why they are doing lessons. As parents, we have our own reasons why we are enrolling our children into music lessons. We know the benefits of studying music. We want them to be well rounded and we want them exposed to the many benefits music has for learning, but to a child, those things really don’t matter. Explain to your child that music will help them be a better scientist, doctor, etc. when they grow up. Giving children reasons that are relevant to their point of view can help them find their own appreciation for music.
5. Create a reward system. Offer rewards to your child that will motivate them to practice. Extra TV time or something they enjoy. They learn that working hard on practicing earns them more of something that they want. This is a valuable life skill.
6. Let them experiment with practice items. If your child’s practice time doesn’t stick to the book, that’s OK. Any interaction with their instrument help them develop and understanding and appreciation. They are learning and exploring whether or not they are playing Twinkle Twinkle.
What Happens When My Child Still Does Not Practice?
OK so you’ve tried all these things and your child is still fighting you on practicing. I have a couple questions I ask parents:
What happens when your child doesn’t want to go to bed?
What do you do when your child doesn’t want to go to school?
Do you just give in? Let them stay up at all hours of the night or let them skip school because they don’t feel like it?
Maybe, but more likely not.
Because, as an adult, you know the benefits of your child going to school or getting plenty of sleep. Practice is no different. There are going to be some kids who don’t want to practice and at the end of the day, you just have to encourage them practice because you know the benefits of them doing so. I had no choice over whether or not I wanted to practice. I just had to happen and my mom supervised in the kitchen while I played in the dining room.
They may fight you, but remember that music has so many benefits. It helps to:
1. Boost brain power.
2. Improves memory and concentration.
3. Build confidence.
4. Teaches discipline.
5. Allows them a way to express themselves.
6. Fosters creativity and provides inspiration.
Countless studies have been done on the benefits of music especially for young children. You child gets these benefits by showing up to class every week.
The real question is:
Do you want to give up all of these amazing benefits in growth and development because your child does not want to practice?
If they enjoy coming to music lessons, continue the process or increase the amount of time they spend at lessons so you do not have to worry about forcing them to practice at home.
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