If your child is anything like all the other kids in the world, chances are they were initially very excited about learning an instrument.
Emphasis on “initially.”
Now, six months later, you may find yourself not only still paying off that baby grand or drum set, but also putting in plenty of time making sure your child puts in his practice hours.
Music, like most other things in life, are fun until they become difficult and once they become difficult they tend to be neglected. Hence, the way of the young human when it comes to extracurriculars. Fortunately, there are a few tricks in getting kids to practice music and also to enjoy it at the same time.
Spend the Time
One of the number one reasons children cease to stick with an instrument may be the simple fact that they feel alone on the journey.
Perhaps the only time they can practice is while their friends are outside playing together, or when everyone else in the family are done with their responsibilities and are enjoying leisure activities.
Maybe a child’s group of friends started out playing the same instrument, and all have dropped out or lost interest, leaving your child as the only one still attending music lessons and having to practice every day.
Sometimes taking the journey with your child, or finding someone who will, makes all the difference when it comes to practice hours. Come alongside your child and encourage him. This may include statements like:
- I am so proud of how hard you work to get better at that song
- I love hearing the sound of you playing while I am doing chores
- I used to play this instrument too, let me show you what I remember.
- Would you like me to hang out in here while you practice?
- Thank you for appreciating the gift we gave you by using it regularly.
Even if your child is well past the age of wanting to “hang out” with you, you may be surprised to discover how naturally and easily the two of you manage to share a moment during practice sessions.
Sidle up next to your child on the piano bench, volunteer to turn the pages of sheet music, or simply sit and encourage. It may make a world of difference in getting kids to practice music!
What was the first thing that prompted your child to want to play the particular instrument you are now battling over?
Perhaps there is a musician your child particularly admires – their latest CD plus a sheet music book featuring easier versions of some of their songs may make an awesome gift. Or, take them to a concert, watch a movie or remind them how much a younger sibling looks up to them and the talent they have.
Remember, there is a very fine line between inspiring and guilt tripping – if you can find that balance, you may accomplish getting kids to practice music and also feel like a total rockstar at the same time!
Don’t beg or barter – it never turns out well.
However, you CAN offer some incentives to make practicing more worthwhile.
During the summer, place practicing ahead of swimming or shopping trips on the calendar. Or, if your child is advanced enough, try to land them a local gig where their friends can see them play. Coffee houses and even a friend’s party are great venues to try.
Stay away from promises of candy, toys or trips – this can backfire if you end up not being able to provide your end of the bargain.
One of the best methods of getting kids to practice music is to just have patience.
Kids need breaks, they need days off and the opportunity to try new things. It isn’t a good idea to make a 14 year old continue something that they fell in love with at age 6.
However, if they are simply burnt out or distracted for some other reason, encourage them to get over the hump and keep going. They could turn out to be an amazing musician someday!