It can be tricky figuring out the best ways to support your child's love of music and their need to practice their instrument at home.
After all, you want to encourage them to practice regularly and continue to improve, but you don't want to put too much pressure on them, which can backfire and cause them to lose enthusiasm.
Luckily, we have a lot of experience on this subject and came up with our top five ways to support your child's music practicing:
Create a Practice Environment
Your child is much more likely to practice regularly if they have a dedicated practice space, ideally in a part of the home that has a bit of privacy and quiet. Practicing a musical instrument requires a great deal of focus and concentration, which is less likely to happen in the hustle and bustle of a busy entrance area or kitchen.
You don't have to go into debt building a full-size music studio: simply creating a comfortable, uncluttered, quiet space in your family room or den (with the understanding that this area if off-limits to your other kids during music practice) should be enough.
Stick to a Routine
Consistency is key when it comes to mastering a musical instrument, but you also don't want to turn your child's practicing into a tedious chore. Work with your child's music instructor to determine the best amount of time per day for your child to practice, based on their age and skill level. Very small children may only be able to comfortably practice for 10 or so minutes a day, while an older child may be able to schedule a full hour or longer.
Creating a consistent practice routine and encouraging your child to stick to it is much more effective than simply "winging it" which tends to lead to either blowing off practice entirely or saving it for overwhelming "cram" sessions. Remember though that music is supposed to be fun and creative. Sometimes your child may need a break from practice to play or relax, and other times they may want to free-style practice instead of following a rigid practice curriculum. Finding a balance that includes consistency but allows for fun is key to a successful at-home music practice.
One great way to make music practice more fun and add extra motivation is to set up mini performances at home. These might be living room concerts that include your child and their friends or siblings, solo performances that you invite extended family to (with your child's blessing, of course), or even performances over video chat with family or friends in other states. Casual, low-pressure performances at home provide your child a way to show off what they've learned and build their confidence.
Compliment Them the Right Way
It's important to encourage and compliment your child for their music practice, but some styles of compliments are much more beneficial than others. Studies have shown that it's better to praise your children for their efforts than to praise them for the results of those efforts, and this goes for academics, athletics, and music alike. For example, instead of saying "You are such a great guitar player!" say something like "You have been practicing a lot and I'm really proud of how hard you're working," or "I noticed that you've been trying out more challenging songs and that's really something to be proud of!"
Being specific, descriptive, and focusing on their hard work encourages them to keep trying and practicing, instead of feeling like they can't possibly live up to more grandiose or vague praise.
Pay Attention to Your Own Attitude
Our kids absorb our attitudes and emotions, even when we don't realize it. When it comes to music in general, and your child's music practicing in particular, make an effort to be positive and enthusiastic. Show your child how fun it is to listen to music and dance around the house. Bring them to music performances and point out how each musician has a cool, unique musical style. Attend your child's performances and listen to them practice with genuine joy and enthusiasm.
By creating the right environment and routine for your child's practicing at home, you will be providing them with everything they need to practice regularly, improve, and have fun!
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