Many parents have expressed their frustration at getting their child to practice their musical instrument. Here’s some tips to help.
Re-frame the notion of practice from chore to a fun activity or even a reward. Don’t force them to practice, it will only drive them away from it.
Place the piano in a central part of the home. If a guitar, put it on a stand in the living room, or even hang it on the wall like in the guitar stores. All instruments have some kind of stand you can buy. By having it out and in easy reach, the instrument naturally gets picked up at various times of the day. If the instrument is in a far off corner of the house, it feels like a banishment or punishment.
Make a consistent time of music time everyday. Some people have found 5 minutes in the morning before school is a great thing. Others find right after school or just before bed. By having a regular schedule, it becomes a habit and that makes it easier to have consistent and frequent time at the instrument.
Take interest in your child’s playing (even if it’s awful). By giving attention, the child feels rewarded and they will get better – really, I promise!
Ask them to teach you the lesson (even if you already know it.) By teaching, the child has to be able to organize their thoughts and really know how to communicate the knowledge. They learn by teaching. This may work better with one parent than the other when one is a musician and the other not.
Listen to music in the home. Take some time to consciously choose music that features the instrument your child is learning. Listen to all kinds of music and talk about it.
Go see live music. Take your child to see live musicians and then talk about the concert. You’ll be amazed at the observations they make. They also may take a new interest in a different instrument as well!
Sing (or hum) together. Many people feel very shy about singing. Actually everyone can sing and if you start at a really young age, they can’t criticize you. You’re just their parent singing and that’s always music to their ears. Holiday carols or folk songs are a great fun family activity.
Take music classes yourself. In my lessons, I actively engage the parents to stay at least on par with the child’s musical knowledge. It becomes a family experience.
Have a family concert (or a music playdate). By having more people making music (or sounds, noise) it becomes a social and group activity. Fun! Just don’t play saxophone with a mouth full of potato chips – that’s gross – I know from experience.
Andrew Ingkavet is an educator, author and entrepreneur.
His belief that learning a musical instrument builds skills vital to success in life has led to a thriving music school in Brooklyn, NY. Andrew helps children, parents and educators with the Musicolor Method, an innovative music curriculum suitable for all children even those who are preliterate or have special needs. His previous bookThe Game of Practice: with 53 Tips to Make Practice Fun is rated 5 stars at Amazon. Andrew is also known as one of the first VJ's at MTV Asia and co-founder of the first digital marketing agency in Asia. He holds a Bachelors of Music from NYU where he was a Scholar in Education.