Tips for Parents: Helping Your Child Progress
Your child's music lessons are an investment. You want your child to absorbe all they can in lessons, practice daily, progress quickly, and enjoy music. Playing an instrument at a high level requires years of discipline and focus. As a parent, it can be difficult to know exactly how to encourage your child through this journey. From my experience, here are some tips I suggest for parents to create a healthy and productive environment for their child to learn an instrument:
1. Schedule practice time
Set aside practice times in your child's schedule. Some families have their child practice everyday at a certain hour while others just choose a general time of day (morning/afternoon/evening). Regardless of what you decide, agreeing ahead of time about the protected practice time will ensure that practicing will actually happen before the day slips away. Children should not feel like they are missing out on a fun family activity because they are practicing. Always strive to create an environment that makes practicing part of the routine, similar to getting dressed for the day or brushing your teeth.
2. Keep comments to a minimum
Remember that your primary job is to support your child and encourage hard work. Occasionally, I see ambitious parents getting angry when their child's playing isn't "good enough." They insert negative comments during their lessons and practice sessions. I know it can be hard not to say anything when you feel like your child can play better, however, remember that negative comments are actually counterproductive. Leave it to the teacher to give honest correction. I have seen students walk into lessons with smiles on their faces and then instantly lose their joy because their parent snapped at them mid-lesson. If you are concerned about your child's progress, call their teacher at a separate time. Their teacher is just as invested in your child's success as you are.
3. Play recordings of classical music in the house
Just like we learn to speak by listening to others speak, students learn to produce a beautiful sound by listening to professionals produce a beautiful sound. Listen to the greats and your child will want to become great. Lucky for us, numerous great recordings are available for free on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, or your local radio station. For starters, check out this one on YouTube-it even has an exciting visual component! Remember, kids are like sponges- they soak up lots of information from their environments. Fill their environment with classical music, and they will learn so much by just hearing it in the background.
4. Instill a love for the process
Teach your child to treasure their lessons and practice time. It's a time they have all to themselves to explore, enjoy, and improve. Remind them that their job is to listen to their teacher, take care of their instrument, and pay attention when they practice. As they get better, they will cherish their time with their instrument more. As the saying goes...
"If you practice, you get better.
If you get better, you play with better players.
If you play with better players, you play better music.
If you play better music, you have more fun.
If you have more fun, you want to practice more.
If you practice more, you get better..."
Your child has embarked on a life long journey of musical exploration. Cherish the present and encourage them along the way.
Lourdes de la Peña and the StringTime Family