You’ve purchased or rented an instrument, found a great music school and teacher, and scheduled lessons. Just one thing is worrying you. How are you going to get your child to practice? And, does it get easier?
We know how you’re feeling. But we have some good news for you. Daily music practice can be a fun and productive experience for both you and your child!
Here are a few tips to help create a practice time that ends in smiles and high fives.
#1 Routine, routine, routine!
This is huge! Kids thrive off of a daily, consistent routine. Of course, they’ll never tell you that! But just like homework, once it becomes a habit, you’ll be surprised at how just important a daily routine is for effective practicing. Part of your routine is to have daily, age-appropriate time goals, say, 20 minutes for beginners or 40 minutes plus for more experienced students.
Then, be sure to have a goal to practice at the same time every day, like immediately after breakfast or immediately after dinner. The key is to choose a time that works with your schedule, and stick to it!
#2 Use rewards wisely
Stickers, a new toy, or a trip to the ice cream stand are all fun ways to reward your child. But make sure that the rewards are appropriate to the goal. If you give a reward after every day of practice, it won’t feel special and will become ineffective. Small rewards, such as stickers, can and should be used. But tie bigger rewards to bigger goals. Save the trip to the ice cream stand for after they’ve completed, say 5 days in a row… and by then it will be a reward for you too for your parenting awesomeness!
#3 Give specific praise
Your child lights up when you say "Good job!” You can up your game by looking for opportunities to tie specific praise to specific effort. For example, let’s say your child tends to need multiple reminders when it’s time to practice. On the day that they start on their own or with just one reminder, say, ‘great job getting started on your own today!’
When you hear them struggling with a specific song or exercise, and they stick with it, right then say, ‘I liked how you kept working on that hard part!’ Specific praise helps your child to learn what to focus on. And it shows that you care and you’re really tuned into what they’re doing, which builds a closeness a bond with your child.
#4 Help your child to teach themselves
This can be tough, but it’s crucial for their independence and musical development. As your child grows, they take on more and more personal responsibility. Why not use music practicing as a great way to encourage independent thinking, problem solving, and resilience? Ask questions like, "What do you need to practice today? What will work on first, what will you work on second? What could you do to get better at the hard section?” Sprinkling in these types of questions will help your child to start thinking in the same way. But depending on their age and developmental stage, this takes patience, persistence, and time.
You can do it!
Kids need a lot of support and encouragement from parents or caregivers when learning a musical instrument, especially in the younger ages. But when you have, 1) a set routine, 2) use rewards wisely, 3) give specific praise, and, 4) encourage independence, your child will blossom in their music study.
Yes, there will always be ups and downs, but they’ll have the inner confidence to work through it and they’ll develop a stick-to-it-ness that will pay off in all areas of life!
For more great tips, be sure to subscribe to our blog and tell a friend about us. Thanks for reading, and happy practicing!
Like this article and video? Here are some other you may enjoy:
- Should you take a break from music lessons?
- How to help your child when you're not a musician
- Top 5 ways to support your child's music practicing
- How to get more out of your child's music lessons