Jonah Rosenthal Jonah R.
Posted August 17th
As a parent, there’s a fine line between encouraging your child to practice regularly and pressuring them to the point where they lose interest. Although there isn’t one magical solution to this all-too-common problem, we have some great suggestions that have proven to be successful.
1) Sign them up for the school band.
Part of the beauty of music is that it almost always sounds better when musicians play together. By signing your kids up for an after-school music program, they’ll not only be getting some much-needed structure and guidance, they’ll be collaborating with their peers to create a synthesis of sounds and rhythms they could never make on their own. It really is a unique and rewarding experience.
One thing to keep in mind is that you need to find a genre they enjoy. Is your child free-spirited and spontaneous? The improvisational nature of the school’s jazz band might be a good fit. Does your child love to sing and dance? Musical theatre is probably the way to go. The best thing you can do is expose your child to as many different styles as possible (classical, rock & roll, etc.) and see what they respond to.
2) Have them play music with their friends.
Chances are, you know other parents whose kids are taking music lessons as well. It’s never too early for children to start a band, even if all that entails is messing around and writing silly songs. Although it’s essential to have structured practice time, it’s equally important for them to let loose and see where their creativity and imagination takes them.
3) Have them consistently practice at the same time.
As soon as kids come home from school, their first instinct is to usually avoid obligations such as homework and music-practice as long as possible. Once they’re in “unwind” mode, it can be hard to get them out of it, which is exactly why it’s helpful to develop a routine. If they’re conditioned to associate a certain time of day with playing their instrument, it won’t be seen as a chore. Make sure their schedule takes into account some free-time between any other extra-curricular activities they’re involved in. Their practice-time definitely won’t be as productive if they’re tired and overworked.
4) Set realistic expectations.
You might think that in order for your kids to harness their musical talents, they need to be practicing an hour or more each day. The truth is that the quality of their practice is more important than how long it is. Make sure they aren’t distracted by the TV, a nearby phone or iPad, or anything else that might cause them to lose focus. Anywhere from 15 - 45 minutes a day is generally the perfect amount of time (depending on their age, interest-level, and experience with the instrument).
5) Find the right teacher.
This is probably the best piece of advice we can give you. Just because certain music teachers have impressive credentials doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be effective. A good teacher will take the time to get to know your kids and develop a rapport with them that makes them WANT to practice. If your kids are working with someone they genuinely enjoy spending time with, they’ll go out of their way to impress him or her with how much progress they’ve made.
At Reverb Lessons, we believe that every child has something to gain from a musical education. The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to start learning an instrument, so be sure to check out our roster of incredible teachers, available for in-home and in-studio lessons. If you want more tips on how to encourage your child to practice more often, we recommend reading NPR’s article: How Do You Encourage Your Kid Without Being a Crazy Stage Parent?