As any active and involved parent would, you desire to see your child progress and do well. You maintain great communication with your teacher, consistently monitor practice, check weekly assignments, etc. In your endeavor to help your child however, there’s a temptation sometimes to see only the negative. While it’s important to make note of mistakes and problems, the positive aspects must be enforced just as much or even more.
What About the Mistakes?
Mistakes are important to point out, but there are some ways to do so in a positive way.
3 for 1 Rule
A good general rule for any kind of correction, you want to make sure and point out at least 3 things that your child did well. It could be a single note that he played correctly or even the right dynamic level—no matter how insignificant it may seem, always point out 3 things done well. Once you have laid the groundwork, then progress to pointing out the mistake by saying something like “I think we might want to look at this section and make sure it’s exactly what we want.”
If you yourself are able to play the instrument, take note of the mistake and then play back to your child both the mistake that you heard and the correct way and then ask him to see if he can hear the difference. It may take a couple times, but having your child listen and try and discern for himself the issue will bring much better results than just pointing out all the errors.
If you don’t play your child’s instrument, take out your phone and record a video of your child playing. Take the recording, sit down together, and make it a game to see if everything was played correctly. Often, watching himself play will be all your child needs to make any of the necessary corrections. This trains your child to listen critically to himself and pulls you out of the position of being always in the negative position.
Keeping the Positive
Some children naturally are very hard themselves. If your child falls into this category, you will want to make an even more concerted effort to praise and encourage his efforts. When you sense that he is growing frustrated and upset, take a minute to step in and tell him how proud you are of his work and ask if there’s anything that you can do that would be helpful. It may be a simple as sitting in the room while he practices. Whatever happens, resolve to always be your child’s biggest cheerleader!