Are you a parent who wants to help your child succeed at lessons, but is not quite sure how to do it? Here are 5 quick tips that will help you and your child succeed at the practice game.
- Have a set practice time. You know your child better than the teacher, and you can help set a realistic goal. I know one of my children set a goal to practice for an hour every night at 8:00pm. As a teacher I would never have encouraged any young child for that late or that long (she was 7), but I knew this child loved to stay up late and wanted something to do. I also knew that practicing with her headphones on would be a special treat and way to wind down at night. Another child practiced at 5:00am. Still another child practiced for just 5 minutes after every meal, because that is what worked for him. In my studio I encourage the parent and child to set up the time and duration goals for practicing.
- Give incentives. Let them earn something by finishing a book, or having a good lesson. My children love to go out with me and get a small treat ($1 limit) after their lesson. I think they love the TIME with me more than the treat, but it creates a positive experience. Many teachers give incentives, but that doesn’t prevent you from doing your own.
- Ask their teacher how they are doing. If your child thinks you are never going to find out they have been goofing off they are much more likely to try to do the minimum. If they know that Mom (or Dad) is going to actually ask the teacher how they are doing and what you can do to help, they really do want to please you.
- After each practice session, rather than just making sure they “finished” practicing, ask “what” they worked on today. If the answer is “I don’t know” they get to go back and try again. Practice sessions are a huge area you can influence. Ask your teacher for tips on good practicing. (or subscribe to this blog – we will have lots of cool tips coming soon.)
- Have friends and family provide support and encouragement. Let the perform for grandma/grandpa. Let cousins learn duets with them. Have the entire family at each recital. It is amazing how important this is to a budding artist, and this is something parents can do that teachers can not do.
- Show your child your love for music. If you listen to music at home, or if you play an instrument yourself, your child is much, much more likely to want to learn and to learn to love music.
- Sing with your child. Singing is a great way to overcome a lot of our innate inhibitions. Singing tells your child that they do not need to be afraid to participate in music and have others hear them. Conversely, parents who are afraid to sing give a subtle message that sharing music is embarrassing.
Remember, the teacher only works with your child for a few minutes each week. The practice time during the week is HUGE and important. As much as we may think that teaching is the teacher’s responsibility, a support system at home makes just as much difference, (probably more) as the right teacher.