The vision of children playing an instrument in front of an audience have many parents signing them up for music classes – violin, guitar, drums, piano, vocals…and while some children share the same vision as their parents of becoming famous musicians/performers, other children are forced to practice (the same way they are forced to eat their peas or broccoli.) You can imagine the enthusiasm and interest in learning the instrument – those poor keys and strings!
Learning music doesn’t just help your children develop a new skill, it helps improve their academic skills, builds social skills, and most importantly, it develops patience and discipline.
The Involved parent Vs the Uninvolved parent
In 2011, the British Journal of Developmental Psychology published an article titled, ‘the role of parental influences in the development of musical performance.’ Around 257 children and parents were interviewed. Even though all the children played musical instruments, they differed in their mastery. Why? The article went on to explain that the parents of the children who became proficient in music, were involved in their children’s practice sessions– not performing but just listening as the child practiced. The parents of the children who stopped their music lessons were less involved or interested in music as their child practiced. The musically able children were the ones who had their parents’ support.
Providing the perfect setting at home
Just like with homework and studying for exams, practicing the keyboard or guitar will be met with grumbling and mumbling. You need to find creative ways to get your child interested in practicing. Here are a few things you can do to motivate your child:
Your presence matters
One easy way to get your child to take their music lessons seriously is to be physically present in the room at least during the early stages of learning. Just being in the same room and sending a word of encouragement or appreciation while your child practices goes a long way.
Set realistic goals
Children love challenges. So if you create fun goals like playing the entire piece without a mistake or practicing a full 30 minutes without taking a break, your child will take it up as a challenge and be more focused during their practice session.
Involve your child while drawing up the practice schedule and be prepared to negotiate on the duration of the practice time. Your child will be happy to be involved in the process and you will have won his/her cooperation. Flexible practice timings won’t work. You need to set aside a fixed slot for daily practice. This way your child will start getting mentally prepared for the practice time and it will slowly become part of his/her routine.
Perks and incentives
Throw in some rewards to sweeten the practice time; a weekend treat if your child hasn’t missed a single practice the whole week. If your child has a grade exam coming up, then promise your child a reward for scoring well in the exam. The thrill of doing well in the exam combined with a prize will motivate your child to practice regularly.
Once your child’s proficiency increases so will his/her interest. You will no longer need to be after him/her to practice as now he/she has discovered the value of music.