Starting the third week of lessons already! As fast as time flies, it’s very easy to let things get by you—namely, keeping up with practice time. As we near the end of the month of January, let’s stop and take a few minutes to reflect on practice… In case the year has you feeling a little overwhelmed with everything, here’s a brief overview of what parents can do to help their children do their best in this area of music.
Reasons Practicing is Important
The value and importance of practice cannot be emphasized enough. Without practice, it becomes impossible for a child to be able to realize the full benefits of music lessons. If you as the parent find yourself struggling a bit at the beginning of the year with wanting to help your child keep up with all the practice, here are a few, hopefully motivational thoughts:
- Improvement: A moot point, a child who does not practice will not show any signs of improvement. It takes time and dedication in order to realize the dream of being able to truly play an instrument well.
- Motivation: While practice motivates, a lack of practice can produce the opposite effect. Nothing can be more discouraging than being stuck in the same level…or even the same song for a long time. Students must see steady and continual growth to remain interested.
- Character: Building discipline and commitment are two of many character traits that regular practice can help instill in a child. Though it may take some encouragement on the part of the parent, music lessons can influence more than just music skill.
General Practice Tips
Refreshed on the reasons practicing is important, how can you as the parent help your child build good practice habits? The following is a list of some general tips that may prove to be very useful:
- Routine: A child thrives on an established routine. As the parent, you have the ability to be able to make practice time a set event in that routine. Depending on the family schedule this could be before school, right after school, before bedtime, in a few different sessions throughout the day, etc. Find what works best for your family and stick to it!
- Reminders: Despite a routine, children still easily forget. A simple verbal reminder or a copy of the schedule hanging on the fridge are a couple options to help your child remember to practice each day.
- Assignments: Take some time after your child’s lesson each week to scan through the assignment notebook and familiarize yourself with the teacher’s notes. If you know what your child is expecting to accomplish in the week, you can better assist your child in preparing.
- Listen: If possible, keep an ear open when your child is practicing. If you’re hearing mostly “playing around” it might be a good idea to ask something like, “Is that what you’re supposed to be practicing?” Accountability is always a good thing! Students enjoy being creative at the piano, so you don’t want to hamper it. An easy solution to this dilemna would be to set a timer for practicing the assigned work and once the time requirement has been fulfilled allow your child to play around to his or her heart’s content!