How to Help Your Child Successfully Learn to Play a Musical Instrument
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Even if you know nothing about music, there are steps you can take to help your child succeed in music. You don’t have to raise a professional musician. Playing a musical instrument is a skill your child will have and be able to enjoy for their entire life. Quite often when I tell someone I’m a music teacher/therapist I hear regrets about never learning to play an instrument. Even non-professional musician receive lifelong pleasure from playing music.
Believe it or not, you have a lot to do with your child’s success. Here are a few suggestions of how to help.
Set aside a little time to play every day. It’s much easier if it could be the same time, but being that I have a family too I understand this is not always possible. Just try to be as consistent as possible. Try to arrange practice time just after dinner, just before bed, or if your child is a morning person, first thing in the morning. You need to enforce this, children are not developmentally able to run and maintain a family (or their own) time schedule. You will need to remind them when it is time to practice. It will get easier to enforce as the new routine just becomes routine.
As far as how long practice time should be, it varies depending on age and ability. Some teachers require 30 minutes a day but in my experience 10 or so minutes a day for a younger musician is more reasonable and the child ends up sticking with it longer because practicing isn’t such a chore. If your child is having fun and wants to play more, let them! I don’t believe in setting a timer. If your child plays through their lesson every day correctly and shows understanding/improvement then they are learning, which is the purpose of practice.
Find a quiet place for practice (or as quiet as possible). If we are talking piano lessons that is an easy one, practice where the piano is! If we are talking about a portable instrument, find a place for them to play where they will not be interrupted. It could be their bedroom or maybe the kitchen while you are cooking dinner.
It’s a good idea to check that they are actually practicing and haven’t become sidetracked. This does take some commitment from you, but please remember what a wonderful gift you are giving your child – the gift of making music.
Praise your child for their accomplishments. Kids want to be acknowledged when they are doing something well. Even if it’s listening to a slow, screechy version of Mary Had a Little Lamb, remember it takes a lot of work to get to that point. They had to learn a whole new language, reading notes on a page and translating it to a song. Just like reading words, it will get better over time and soon you will be amazed at what they can play.
Learning an instrument takes a little effort on the part of the parent as well as the child. There is an amazing lifelong reward waiting for your child if you stick with it.
© 2013 HeatherH104