Parent's Survival Guide to Music Lessons
You've started the year with high hopes for your child's music lessons, and so far, things seem to be going well. But before the newness of music lessons wears off and your child's excitement wanes, read this to be well-positioned for any pitfalls that are coming throughout the year.
Here's my guide to surviving music lessons with your children and making it through the year incident-free.
1. Sign them up for lessons with an engaging teacher
If you've already registered for lessons at Upper Beaches Music School, congratulations, you've already set your child up for success! Ensuring that your child has a connection with their teacher will mean that their music lessons are pleasant and satisfying. Your child's teacher will be able to help them succeed in music by assigning engaging repertoire and defined practicing goals. (Shameless plug- if you haven't registered for lessons yet, book your trial lesson with us here.)
2. Give them the best environment to practice at home
Carve out a space at home for your child to practice. Make sure it is a quiet, peaceful space to spend time. Don't expect them to be excited to practice if the piano is in the cold basement or buried under a mountain of forgotten books and papers. Similarly, if you are expecting them to practice violin beside you as you make dinner, this is not a recipe for success. The practice area needs to be a designated spot that is a desirable place for them to spend time.
3. Play an active role in your child's practicing
Either sit in on your child's lessons or get a detailed report from their teacher each week on what they need to work on. At home, be present at practicing time. If your child is young and cannot yet read the teacher's instructions, it is imperative that you help them determine what to practice, and how. Remember that most children under the age of ten years old will still struggle to do their schoolwork without prompting, and in the way that their teacher prescribed. Your involvement is crucial until your child's music teacher has given you the go-ahead to let them practice solo.
4. Know that resistance to practicing is normal and expected
At some point, your child will resist practicing. It's inevitable, and when it happens, parents must resist the urge to interpret this as a sign that their child hates music and will never be self-motivated to practice. Instead, view this as an opportunity for character growth. Your child has likely discovered that learning a musical instrument takes hard work and dedication, and it's important that you encourage them through this rough patch.
5. The best incentive is your praise
While stickers, charts and practice games can all be powerful motivators, what your child wants more than anything is to know that you are proud of them. Whenever they practice and have even the tiniest success, tell them! Your encouragement is the best reward. If we want children to recognize even the smallest incremental improvements in their playing, and we must teach them to do so.
6. Make sure they participate in performances
Although performing can be nerve-wracking, there is nothing more satisfying to a child than hearing applause after their performance. Make sure you mark the recital dates down in your calendar and make it a priority to be there to support your child. They've worked hard all year, and the payoff is waiting in the form of praise and acclamation from both you and their teacher!
The most successful people in life have learned perseverance. As we head into this year of music lessons, know that you are just as crucial, if not more important, to your child's success in music lessons as they are. When you hit the brick wall and can't motivate them to practice, circle back here... we're your best resource to push through those tough times in order to reach the goal of a fostering a lifelong love of making music.
About the Author:
Rebecca Lane is the director, founder, and owner of Upper Beaches Music School. A now-retired teacher, she now spends her days dreaming up practice strategies for parents and testing them on her three young children who have been known to resist practicing every now and then.