5 tricks and treats to get your child to PRACTICE Guitar!
Your child is in guitar lessons. Her favorite pop star plays guitar so she became interested and you, being a supportive parent, arrange for her to get lessons so she can explore it as a hobby and possibly a lifelong activity. After a few lessons, reality sets in. She has to practice! Practicing is the most enjoyable homework she has but it can still be difficult to get children to do the work. Here are some solutions:
Find out what motivates them:
What works for mine might not work for yours! You know your child better than anyone else. Whether it’s a reward, an accomplishment, praise, etc. The more successful they are at playing guitar, the more fun it will be, and the more likely they are to eventually self-motivate. At first, they need a little help to get past the early difficulties.
I prefer rewards over consequences so that the process is fun instead of having a black cloud of hovering over them if they don’t comply. I wish that I had little rewards to look forward to during work! Lets be real, I do. As I’m writing this, I’m craving ice cream and I plan to reward myself with the Amaretto ice cream in my freezer the second I’m done. I’ve been told you shouldn’t bribe a child with food, so maybe don’t get there unless it’s post dinner dessert they are earning.
My favorite reward for the 13 years and under crowd is sticker charts! I plan to use them with my daughter for everything when she’s old enough. Once they fill out their sticker chart (25 stickers, one for each practice session), they get something they want. A huge sticker usually does the trick for my students. Maybe a toy or a trip to the pool or whatever else motivates THEM!
No time limit:
Have them practice until they have completed the task, instead of for the typical 30 minutes. Set a daily goal for that practice session so that the practice is beneficial, not counting down the minutes. “Play these 2 lines until you can with no mistakes”. If they can do that within 10 minutes, that’s great! Then you can offer them another sticker on their chart if they choose to practice until the following 2 lines are perfect. Practicing can be so much fun that way! She can decide her goal is to perfect the entire song if she wants to.
Opportunities to perform:
I was a performance monkey for my parents. I think it was good for me. Luckily they gave me notice so I could prepare what piece I was going to show off for her friends that weekend. Having a performance usually creates an obsession to perfect. We want to impress people with our talents so arranging mini performances gives them opportunities in between recitals.
Music is academic but should also be enjoyable! Positive motivation is a great way to grow a love of music in a student. Parents and teachers should work together to find out what motivates THEM!