Kids and practice sometimes don't mix! Getting kids to practice can be fraught with difficulty. They say they want to learn, you are paying for the lessons and you want to encourage them and make music a fun and fulfilling experience for them.
You have read that learning an instrument helps in other curriculum areas too and of course you want the best for your child... but how do you go about getting them to practice? If you are thinking about your child starting to learn an instrument and want to know more about the pros and cons and whether learning an instrument really does make you smarter click here for more information on whether to learn an instrument
GO DO SOME PRACTICE!
...Of course, you are still reading, even though this is about kids and practice. In other words it is about you - not to you! But when something that says 'Parents' is so freely available to students... how could you resist! You want to know what secrets I am going to tell your parents to get you to practice! Well the good news is there are no secrets! It is up to you to practice! Remember though, your parents are paying, and if they don’t feel they are getting value for money they may stop, and no matter how much you might say now “Good! I’m fed up with them anyway” I can GUARANTEE you, you will regret it if you do. No matter how tedious it is for you now, especially if you have hit a bit of a plateau, or if you feel you aren’t making fast enough progress, that is nothing compared to how you will feel in 20 (or much less) years time watching somebody perform in a band, as a soloist and thinking “That could have been me.” I know so many adults who wish they’d never given up it is insane! So... read the rest if you like... but there are no secrets. Go surf the site. Download the practice support forms. Get your practice to be more efficient and effective. Make faster progress in less time... and good luck!
One of the first things you can do is to help your child set some musical goals. Kids and practice mix much better when they have something clear to aim for. That applies to individual practice sessions as well as long term goals. Remember they should be their goals for themselves, not your goals for them! By all means discuss their musical goals. Let them dream a little for their long term goals. After all, it isn’t impossible for them to become the next big thing. Somebody has to! As for the short and medium term goals, keep their feet on the ground. In conjunction with their teacher, help them plan achievable goals, but goals that will stretch them nevertheless. Check back soon for essential information on how goal setting will help in getting the kids to practice!
Once musical goals are established encourage children to strive for them and achieve them. Support them if they do and talk about why. Show that you are proud of their achievements. Support them if they don’t and talk about why not. Don’t just gloss over it. Maybe their practice isn’t effective enough, maybe the goal wasn’t realistic, maybe they just didn’t work hard enough. Whatever the reason, it is not a failure, but a lesson learned for next time. The student still needs to take responsibility for the outcome though and work to correct it with your support.
One of the joys of playing an instrument is performing and it is
certainly something that helps in getting kids to practice. A
performance is a deadline that has potentially disastrous consequences
if it is missed through lack of preparation. The kids and practice need to be focused. Remember to let the them know:
Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
Kids and practice aren't mutually exclusive and you can also encourage music practice through listening. Play music of their instrument in the house, in the car, while you eat... Encourage them to listen to the music, to comment on it, to pick pieces they might like to play one day. Don’t expect them to like it all and don’t expect them to like the same pieces as you. Find different styles of music featuring their instrument from the earliest music written for it to more modern pieces including 20th and 21st century classical art music as well as any jazz, pop or film score pieces featuring their instrument. Take them to concerts to listen to their instrument being played by professionals, but be prepared to leave at half time if they are starting to get bored. Don’t push... lead gently. Take an interest in their instrument, the history, construction, major composers, the physics behind it... anything to show them that you are interested too.
And talking of playing... everybody likes to play games and music students are no exception. Click on the Games link on the left for various practice games to help with learning new pieces, memorizing and performing including my personal favourite Cheating Chess
This is a question parents often ask and the actual answer is "Whenever they are ready." Click here for more advice on when they (and you) are ready to start learning a musical instrument.
For more advice on how to make more efficient use of your practice time, read my book Practice Makes Perfect. For more guidance when practising scales order Practice Makes Perfect,
the book that teaches you how to make your music practice more
efficient and effective. Easy to read and containing over 140 pages of
advice on how to practice, musical goal setting, practice games, exams
and further tips on using the music practice charts on this site as well
as other invaluable practice advice. One music teacher called Practice Makes Perfect "An essential read for all musicians "
Click here now to order or read more about how Practice Makes Perfect can help you make more progress in much less time.
Learn more about my ebook Practice Makes Perfect here. Also available on iBookstore and Amazon.
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