March 31, 2011 at 7:17 AM
Keeping a child interested in practicing their musical instrument is an extremely difficult task for a parent. The first thing to do is come to grips with the fact that every music student has practicing low points. It is part of the learning process. A month of not wanting to practice is not an indication in the level of interest in the instrument. To expect a music student to be enthusiastic about practicing every day is about as reasonable as expecting someone to look forward to the gym every day.
However, there are definitely way to smooth out the process. Practicing at the same time every day helps make the process a routine. Trouble usually arises when practicing is not part of the usual daily schedule. It needs to become a habit like brushing your teeth.
Giving a student some sense of control over the practice session also helps. With older students this is much easier. They are mature enough to handle solo practice sessions. With younger students, more creativity is required. Using simple toys like dice help “randomize” the practice session. Have the student roll the dice and that will how many times something is done. This gives the student a sense of control. It goes from mom or dad saying “do it five times” to a “game” dictating the number.
Goals are also a good motivator. Aimlessly practicing is difficult over prolonged periods of time. But working toward a recital or prize makes the hard work meaningful. Once the goal is achieved, it also provides a sense of accomplishment. When making goals, it is important to keep the student in mind. An older student might be okay with a goal that takes several months to complete, whereas ten days might be a more appropriate length of time for a student that is very young. The goal must be reasonable.
Practicing must be a balance between adding variety and creating a routine. A consistent time of day gives a sense of permanence to the activity. But this does not mean that every practice session music be the same. Small changes help make things interesting again. Even if it just means playing a piece in a different room.
I have difficult times trying to convince my younger sister to practice.
I like the dice idea. It's worked for myself and students in the past to divvy up the music into sections of four to six measures (depending on phrases) and learn one of those a day, and build on. With two dice, you could roll both, practice the section on the first die and practice it how many times shown by the second die.
All of my students love dice. Even just changing the dice makes it a different game. Like having a different number of sides or multiple colors.
But I have all sorts of counting games. I converted Zingo (board game) into a violin game. I have a treasure chest filled with plastic jewels, they take a handful and however many *pick a color* is how many repetitions we do.
The concept for each of the games is exactly the same. But by changing the medium it's suddenly new and exciting.
You might think I'm being fussy but the verb is spelt "practising" not "practicing" - the use of the c being reserved for the noun - eg. it takes a lot of practice (noun)/ you must practise (verb).
I have, actually, seen that usage. But it tends to be more of a UK/Australia way of spelling. Just like color vs. colour.
"Practicing must be a balance between adding variety and creating a routine."
Couldnt agree more on this one!
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