Help Your Child Want To Practice MusicJen
Who wants to practice?
Tips for helping your child want to practice music.
Your child started music lessons, but doesn’t want to practice music on a regular basis. They’ve lost their initial enthusiasm for learning to play their instrument. The music teacher has been encouraging practice at home, but alas, it isn’t happening.
Don’t worry, your child just needs a little creative elbow room for a week or two, and it’s going to happen at home.
Discuss this with their music teacher. Let them know you want to help improve your child’s experience.
Here are a few practical tips that will help rekindle your child’s enthusiasm for learning an instrument.
1. Reframe your child’s role.
At home, your child’s new music role is, Chief Entertainer. For the moment, let’s make household entertainment be a motive for learning the instrument. If your child sees themselves as a source of musical delight for the family, they will pursue it.
Do not judge the results.
Even with limited skills, let them be the “house entertainment”. They’re craving freedom to goof around and make noise. Just as kids innately know what to do with a bucket of paint and brush, let them experiment on their instrument, without review or repetition.
2. Reframe your role.
Your primary role is, Cheering Section. Pour on the encouragement. “Oh, I love that one!” “Play it again!” “I love it when you make your own music!” “Play the one you know I love so much.” Their results do not matter. The point is for you to provide approval and opportunities for them to take requests from you. Ask them to make up music too. Examples: a lullaby, scary music, a piece with one or two notes, crazy music.
Resist this word.
For now, resist the urge to use the word “practice”. It can cause anxiety and confusion for a lot of kids. Instead, encourage pure playfulness. Of course there is value in practice and stamina, but these qualities will develop soon enough. Use the word “play”.
Trust this person.
The music teacher. They are providing tools, lots of them, every week for your child to try at home. Trust that they have a method and plan to teach your child how to practice music. You’ll be part of that too in the coming weeks. In the meantime, your child is going to want to wow you, so just be wowed!
Sing along! Whistle! I always tell my students that it’s a good sign when you hear someone singing or whistling along with the music in the kitchen (or anywhere in the house). If your child hears you singing or humming or whistling their pieces, they’ll be over the moon. It means you’ve brought their music into your heart.
4. Do not watch the clock.
For now just encourage them just to play for you, and do not focus on how many minutes they devote to it. They’re developing a relationship with the instrument. A single minute is worth something. I encourage kids to choose a time they enjoy, for example before dinner. A captive audience might be cooking and listening in the kitchen!
Do more of this.
Quietly listen and watch like an audience, and clap wildly at the end!
Invite your child to play for others, over the phone and in person. Invite the dog in to listen. Bring in a few of their dolls and line the couch with some stuffed animal friends. It will go a long way toward developing a joy of playing for others. Good practice habits will spring from all of this.
Before you know it, your child will be moved to spend more time with their instrument. Don’t be surprised if it happens within a week or two. A strong relationship with playing for fun will lead to a healthy practice routine.
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