We all know that effective practice is extremely important for success in mastering an instrument. But, it can be a struggle to motivate children to practice, especially young children. Read on for fun ideas and strategies to help your children build fun and effective practice habits! Be sure to read the full article on TakeLessons.com, authored by Maile Proctor, entitled 13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music.
Treat Music Like a Different Subject
With so many different subjects, it’s no wonder adding time to practice music can seem like a burden to a kid. It’s up to you to help your child see music in a different light!
Rather than treating music like any other subject, create a distinction so your child sees music as something he or she wants to do. The best way to shift your child’s mindset is to let him or her play an instrument they’re actually interested in.
Put Your Child in Control
It’s no secret that when we’re told to do something, we don’t always want to do it. Combat this problem by putting your child in control. Let him or her determine the practice schedule, that way they’re more likely to stick to it.
“Kids hear adults tell them what to do all the time; to catch their attention, let them plan their own practice schedule,” says Nicole Weiss, LCSW Psychotherapist and Coach. “Start with the end in mind. Basically, you want to get your child to make the decision that he or she needs to practice so that he or she can play the way he or she wants to play. After the decision is made, the parent can help the child research and figure out how often a good musician practices. The child then sets a schedule based on the reality that, to be good, one must practice.”
Not only will this allow your child to feel a sense of control, it will also help him or her to learn the value of practice.
Help Your Child Understand the Gift of Music
Show your child that playing a musical instrument is a special privilege and an opportunity that isn’t necessarily available to everyone. Teach your child to appreciate music and all it has to offer. Help them discover that music can enhance their life.
This also includes helping your child develop a love for music. Take them to concerts or shows, play music at home, and help them discover what they like.
Don’t Make Practice an Obligation
The key here is to not make practice seem like an obligation, as compared to other fun activities. Using a fun activity as a reward will create the mindset that practice is the obligation that stands in the way of the fun activity, and this could create resentment or dread for practice.
When it comes to any sport, hobby, or endeavor, it’s important to keep your eye on the prize. The same thing applies when it comes to your child learning an instrument; your son or daughter has to have a goal in sight, otherwise, he or she may question the need to practice.
Not only do performances help to increase excitement, they also work to hold children accountable. Ask any music teacher — even the most unmotivated student will be more likely to practice if it means avoiding embarrassment at a recital!
Let Your Child Choose
Just because you loved playing piano as a kid doesn’t mean your child will love playing just as much. Your child may have other interests, and it’s important to allow him or her to explore different endeavors.
“First of all, I think it’s critical that the child choose the instrument they’re going to learn,” says Matt T. from Unlock the Guitar. “I’m a guitarist, and I’d love nothing more than my son to be interested in learning guitar, but he’s undeniably drawn to the piano. Plus, if an instrument is thrust upon them, practicing it will also be thrust upon them. Letting the child choose the instrument turns this on its head, and into your favor, even if they didn’t choose the instrument you would have liked them to play.”
Be Their Cheerleader
Let your child know you’re his or her biggest fan, especially early on when your child may feel frustrated or discouraged.
Eighty-eight notes school of music suggests listening to your child at home as often as you can and making encouraging remarks about their progress. Also, make sure to ask them how their lessons went.
Take a genuine interest in your child’s musical journey. Your son or daughter will be excited to play for you and show off new skills!
Help Them Engage With Music
Your child is more likely to practice music if he or she feels connected to the process. Help your son or daughter develop an interest and curiosity for music.
“Motivating your child by reward or punishment will stop working very quickly; instead, help your child get curious about music and develop an inner desire to engage with music,” says Jonas G., the founder of flowkey. “Let your child play around with different instruments. Listen to music and sing together. Your child will naturally want to imitate you, so a big motivation for children to practice is seeing their parents engage with music themselves.”
Rather than telling your child to practice, help him or her set specific goals and challenges.
Practiceopedia author and practice expert, Philip J., has a completely different take: “Don’t ask your kids to ‘practice’ — they won’t know what to do. Instead, give them bite-sized, clear challenges to complete: (1) Work out a fingering for measures 24-35 (2) Gradually speed up section B to 85bpm. (3) Be able to play the left hand of the coda from memory.”
Having trouble coming up with the right challenge? Check out Phillip’s website, thebootcampedition.com, for a huge collection.
Celebrate ALL Accomplishments
Learning to play an instrument is a long journey full of peaks, valleys, and plateaus. While you’ll definitely be proud when you watch your child perform, it’s important to celebrate the little victories along the way.
Celebrating the little victories will help your child keep a positive attitude when they’re struggling or having difficulty tackling a new concept or song.
Let Them Play Music They Like
While there are always certain signature songs and classics for various instruments, your child will lose interest if he or she doesn’t like the music they’re playing. Work with your child’s teacher to make sure your child is playing some music they truly enjoy.
According to the Academy of Music and Dance, “As children get to be around 10 years old, sometimes younger, they start to develop preferences for musical style, largely influenced by radio, TV, and whatever they’re most exposed to at home. They will also typically gravitate to whatever their friends are listening to, especially for boys at around age 13 and girls around age 11.”
Use this as a motivational strategy; allow your son or daughter to play at least one familiar song as part of their weekly routine.
Make Practice Fun
This should come as no surprise — no one wants to practice when it’s boring! According to PianoDiscoveries, “appropriate goals and positive reinforcement will make practicing fun and rewarding. Very few children are self-motivated in their practice. Most need incentives and reminders to keep them focused and moving forward.”
Ask your child’s music teacher for some creative ways to make practice more fun!
Find the Right Teacher
Although practice is done outside of lessons, if your child connects with his or her teacher, they’re much more likely to practice on their own time. Find a teacher who understands your child’s learning style, and a person who’s able to teach concepts in a way that keeps your child interested. When your son or daughter likes his or her teacher, they’ll be more willing to take direction and practice consistently.