Want to keep your kids tuned in to their music practice? It’s all about striking the right notes, says Miranda Rocca.
Every child is bubbling over with excitement about their first music lesson. There’s the new instrument to discover, the books of music to go through, and the anticipation of meeting their new teacher.
But learning any musical instrument means much more than committing to one lesson each week. That’s just the start of the musical journey, and each session needs to be followed up with regular practice at home.
For some children, practising their instrument becomes part of daily activities from the start and progress is swift. For others, the ongoing battle to get kids to pick up their instruments can lead to parents putting an end to music lessons – and not without good reason. Nagging kids isn’t fun for parent or child, and half-hearted practice doesn’t work the musical magic that self-motivated work does.
So here are some helpful tips to keep you and your child in sync for a great musical experience, swift progress, and no more nagging.
- Sing from the same song sheet. In one
year, a 30-minute weekly lesson equates to 20 hours of time that the teacher will spend with your child. So meet them and make sure you both know what motivates your child, the music they like to play or listen to, and how to keep them on track.
- Change key words. Replace “practise” with “play”! “What are you going to play for me today?” will get an instantly better result than, “Have you
done your music practice?”
- Pick up and play. Don’t pack instruments away in their cases. Leave them out, ready to play. A guitar sitting out can’t be ignored, and it’s hard to walk past
a piano without having a go. If your child’s instrument is their voice, there should be no stopping them.
- Good conduct. Have your family agree to recognise the effort that goes into practice and no matter what sound is produced, never to criticise. The first year especially will produce some interesting sounds, but they’re all constructive.
- Keep it light. Concentration is more focused in smaller sessions and it’s easier for a child to commit
to two 10-minute sessions rather than a full 20-minute practice in one go.
- Sound choices. Once the basics are learned,
talk to your child’s teacher about allowing your child
to have some input in the pieces they are learning. Given the opportunity to learn a song or tune they love or have a connection with will motivate them tenfold.
- Stage of learning. Remind your child that one performance has the same effect as three music practice sessions!
The most important thing to remember in the early years is to celebrate the little steps. Just like learning to ride a bike, read a book, or swim, feeling good about the small victories, the musical moments when it all falls into place, being encouraged and celebrating achievements, they all add up to a symphony of success.
Miranda is the manager of the Lewis Eady Music School, as well as a pianist and mother of four young musicians.