How to Encourage Children to Practice their Instrument
The ability to play a musical instrument is a gift that can last a lifetime, but sometimes children can view practice as a chore that takes a lifetime. It’s important for them to view practice as an enjoyable learning experience instead of a mandatory work session. There are many things parents can do to encourage children to practice their instrument of choice and instill a love of music.
Choose the Right Instrument
It should go without saying that your child should play the instrument they are interested in. Work with your child to make the right choice but do keep in mind that some instruments may be difficult for children to play. For instance, the violin requires a certain degree of technical skill and large instruments like the tuba are simply too big for smaller children. You can talk to your school band director or music teacher for ideas. Some may let your child try an instrument out before you decide to move forward with lessons.
Set up a Place to Play
It’s best to have a place set aside for music practice, one that’s free of clutter and distractions. A pleasant and relaxed atmosphere is more conducive for creativity than a dark basement or messy bedroom. Make sure there’s a good light source and your child has everything he or she needs to practice, such as a music stand and all related musical equipment. You don’t need to get a construction estimation for a whole new room, just work with what you have.
Stick to a Schedule
If children adhere to a regular practice schedule, it will become part of their routine and will be easier to stick with. Determine the best time of day. All children are different; some may prefer to practice in the morning before school, some may prefer after dinner. Even if they only have 10 minutes, make sure to get it in. It’s better to have a short session every day than a longer session only a couple of times a week. This helps children form a better connection with their instrument.
Give Positive Reinforcement
Try to be present when your child practices and express interest in what they are learning. Praise them for every step forward and encourage other family members to applaud your music student’s efforts. Positive reinforcement goes a long way and gives the child a sense of pride. On the other hand, keep any negative comments to yourself. It takes time to master an instrument, and your child’s teacher will help him or her with any problems that come up. There will be ups and downs, and your child may get discouraged at times. Just remind your child that her time and effort will pay off.
Don’t Bribe, but Do Reward
Avoid things like sticker charts that make music practice seem like a chore. Instead, reward your child for a job well done by taking him to see a musical performance of their choice. Concerts, musicals or even live music at a restaurant are all things your budding musician will enjoy. Make music fun, and your child will be more likely to stick with it and enjoy playing for a lifetime.
Scott Huntington is a writer, reporter, blogger, and percussionist, specializing in marimba. He currently lives in PA and with his wife and son. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington.
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