Get the most out of music lessons.
How do I get my child to practice music? This is the number one question/issue that parents have and experience. Let me say this from the start - a very small population of children willingly practice without being asked. You have not failed as a parent if your child does not fit inside this small window.
The Second thing to remember is; music can be difficult and overwhelming. Consider your little one’s self-talk while they play at home - “I am not good at this,” “this doesn’t sound right,” “Why can’t I get this!”, “This is boring” are some examples.
Finally, today’s kids are busy! With soccer, dance, hockey, gymnastics, art, coding and Kumon, your little one has a lot on their plate. Practicing music takes time that may not be there!
With that, Here are five new perspectives to get your child to practice:
Remove the Clock - No more “practice for 5/10/15/30 mins”! Getting better at anything is about repetition. Replace the clock with “play this 30 times”. Do this multiple times a day. The clock is a distraction in many ways. Your child is more concerned with how much time is left and not about the music. It is not focused practice.
Define your Practice Space - While this may be your piano in the living room, make the space welcoming. Have a space that both you and your child create. Giving them input gives them a feeling they have some control. It’s a little skin in the game. ProTip: Don’t keep instruments in their cases/closets during the week. Instruments out of site do not get played!
Keep a Routine - As James Clear of jamesclear.com writes, if it takes less than 2 minutes to start, just do that action. It takes less than 2 minutes for your child (or you!) to pick up or go to the instrument. Just ask them to go to the piano, especially at the beginning of lessons. This can ignite practicing without pressure. The practice is for them.
Have a goal - Big or small goals, it’s great to have a goal and to discuss this with your teacher. You may have to take the lead on this, as many 9-year-olds don’t know what the goal could be. Talk about goals being as small as two notes and as big as learning it all! Each practice session should focus on solving a problem. NOT playing the piece from the first note to the last. Celebrate the wins!
Be Kind. It’s their music - The hardest part about learning an instrument is facing our physical and mental limitations every time we sit with the instrument. Kids often have negative self-talk when learning music because of these challenges. Music is an investment in your child's wellbeing, sometimes without something tangible. If they love going to music class, let that be enough. Practicing at home might not happen, and that’s okay.