Published on 07/02/2013
The kids are back at school – hooray for you and your sanity. This also means that all the kids activities start up again: tennis classes, gym and dance. And music lessons.
Here are some top tips for encouraging your kids to practice with their chosen instrument and to create harmony in the house.
Hopefully you have already taken care to check that the instrument your child is learning is something they can enjoy. If you push them to learn the guitar and they really want to learn the clarinet then you can guess what might happen. It might be a struggle to get them to practice at all. Making sure they can get real enjoyment out of the music is critical.
Sometimes it can feel like there is no progress being made. But by recording some of the practice sessions you can both see that there is improvement, and this can be incredibly rewarding for you both. It allows your child to enjoy their own musical creations and to realise that all the practice is really worth it.
Yes, it is important to set guidelines and routines, but try to be flexible too. If practise feels like a chore, it's no fun for anyone. Try to stick to the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time ensure your child practises at the set times. But 20% of the time, allow them to break the rules. There may be times when your child is sick, tired or just burned out. Cut them some slack; they might find they really miss the joy of playing and by next week they are very eager again.
Maybe first thing on a Sunday morning is their “time” when they are refreshed and relaxed. Or maybe 4pm on Wednesdays seem to work better. Everyone is different and has different concentration spans so pick times that really work. If 10 minutes is all they can manage sometime then that is fine. Don’t push for one hour of practise unless they really want to.
Practising with music sheets and songs is great discipline. But allowing some time for freestyle is also good. It allows your child to feel more creative, have fun and break free. Sometimes the best music comes by accident or after some free play.
And remember; try not to give up too easily. Sometimes the road will be hard and tricky, but playing music is a joy not to mention a wonderful skill to teach your kids. The music, the discipline, the routine – it is all great for kids to learn. So enjoy the ride.