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.
More entries: January 2011
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