Music lessons are awesome! We love when our children say they want to take lessons, and we LOVE hearing those great songs coming from their instruments. But let’s face it, getting them to practice that instrument can sometimes be challenging. “Practice makes perfect,” we’ve heard it and we know it to be true, so this is important! But it can also be a little frustrating. In this blog we will go over a few strategies to make the practice component of music lessons a little less painful.
Have a Practice Time
Just like you have tell you child to brush their teeth before bed-which is building a habit-have a time when they practice their musical instrument. I think right after school is a great time for this since I like to give my children a break from the school work part of their brain. Homework will come a little later, but music is a different set of skills, so this can be a great time to use to get some music practice in. Remember, 20 minutes is a good amount of time. It doesn’t have to be an hour. That is less than one episode of their favorite cartoon. Have them eat a snack, unwind, and then go hit the music books. That creative time of brain work will probably help them with their school work, not take away from it!
Set up a Conducive Environment
Have a place for music practice. If your student is taking piano, well, the practice place is pretty obvious. With several other instruments, however, the practice place can have several options. Wherever you choose to set up a practice environment, make sure they have what they need close at hand. Have their music (on some kind of a stand) and several picks if they are taking guitar, for example. Any lesson plan from their teacher should be within reaching distance so they can recall what songs and scales they are working on, and proper lighting is always a must! Hard to play the music if you can’t see it. Make sure you double check lighting if they are practicing in the evening hours and their lessons possibly take place during brighter daylight hours. We sometimes we forget how the lighting in a room can change throughout the day, so make sure it’s bright.
Have a Reward System
Truly, most days, I’m doing the reminding. That is just the nature of raising kids. So with a reward chart of some kind, make the reward for every time they go practice WITHOUT being reminded. This is when maturity starts to be seen in our children. After they do this for say, five times, have a reward set in place. It doesn’t have to be a monetary reward. You might want to save that for the big musical accomplishments! You can reward staying up a little later, or an extra time slot on their video game (on weekends only, for me) or a sleepover with friends. Whatever you choose to use, have a tangible chart of some kind so they can see the progress, and then reward the progress. Packs of gum hanging from the end of the chart that they get the grab off after they fill in their days can be very motivating too! Use your creativity; after all, we are asking for creativity from them in so many things they do, let’s challenge ourselves to be creative with the rewards!
Listen to the Practicing
Doing a quick stop by the practice room can help you get a sense of where your student is at in their songs. Be encouraging, always starting with a positive. If they are “mumbling” through a spot in a song, encourage them to go back over that spot a little slower and with a little more polish. Knowing you are on their side, but are also aware of what they are doing, helps keep things in check.
Getting Your Child to Practice Their Instrument
You are the best cheerleader, advice giver, emotional director for your student. Take some time and set them up, literally, for success with the musical instrument you have chosen! Beautiful melodies are just around the corner!