Does getting your child to practice feel like you are being dragged uphill by your face? It isn’t always easy but it is always worth it. I have never met an adult who looked back at their childhood and said “I wish I had never learned to play an instrument.” But since your child may not be able to look that far in the future, here are a few tricks to get your child to practice without the fight.
Start measuring practice without using a time frame
Do you remember being a kid in a waiting room and feeling like fifteen minutes took about the whole of eternity? Kids view and feel time differently than we do adults. Twenty or 30 minutes feel like hours to a child. Instead of having them sit there for twenty minutes, try to have them practice the song five times and their scales four times. For a child, having small reachable goals can be far more effective than waiting for an alarm to release them from their torture.
Give them goals that involve performing
This definitely does not work for all kids and certainly would not have worked for me. However, for some kids it’s a miracle! Make the end of each practice session or the end of learning a new song an opportunity for the child to perform for your family. If your child loves the spotlight or perhaps even just the attention of one parent or the other, let them perform their finished song with the family sitting down to a mini concert. This has added benefits including confidence in public speaking, gaining trust in their own abilities, and learning to work towards a goal.
Mix it up
After a while practicing can get monotonous. Adding in unusual rewards can help freshen up the experience and may even help you find that one thing that inspires your child to practice the most. For example, if your child practices every day during that week, you can have a fun practice day together playing a musical game. Or try rewarding them with an extra day at the park, or a special bike ride with Mom or Dad.
Don’t forget why you’re having them practice
Most of the time the deciding factor for whether student practices or not is their parents. They may not particularly enjoy every day of practice, but they’ll be more than grateful as they get older. Keeping in mind the many benefits for children who learn instruments will help you challenge your child to be the best they can be. As their parent, at least while they’re young, you’ll need to be the driving force behind them practicing.
Here are just a few things your child will improve in by learning an instrument:
- hand-eye coordination
- ability to use left and right brain function together
- higher test scores
- ability to play an instrument
- time management
- work ethic
- and many more!
In fact, making your own list of reasons why you’re having them practice can be really helpful. Make the list as long and detailed as you can. You may even get the help of your teacher to think of somethings you may not have considered yet. If you think it will help, try showing the list to your child or have them add to it as well. It may help them realize that you are having them practice for their own benefit not as a punishment or a chore. Keep the list in a drawer and when you are tempted to let them quit, pull it out and read it or even add to it. I think you will always find the benefits make it worth any difficulty you have getting them to practice.