Why students may not like to practice

Lets face it. Not every child has the patience to sit at the piano for hours and hours to become the next musical prodigy. It’s easy nowadays to be influenced by the many videos and sightings of young child prodigies you see on TV or on YouTube, playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto or being at a diploma level on their instrument by the age of 10.

It’s important not to lose sight of why you’ve encouraged your child to play music in the first place. Is it really just to force self-discipline on them? Do you expect them to sit there and practice for hours on end? Is it to get through all the music examinations as fast as possible? Hopefully your motive is for them to love music, and receive the intellectual, psychological and emotional benefits that music can bring to a young child.

We all know that practicing your instrument is the key to success with it, but how do we overcome what seems like an ongoing challenge, to maintain a steady progress that we want? This list is by no means all-inclusive, but can serve as a sobering reminder that having a healthy music education is key to their success

Set smaller goals

Young children need goals to motivate them to things done. It’s important to give goals that are simple, clear and small enough, especially for young children. Although it is largely on the teacher’s end to give clear instructions on what to do at home, the parent is also equally responsible to support their child to fulfil those goals. Small rewards for achieving these goals can be a great way to motivate young children to practice.

Music Exams

Music Exams are a great way to motivate students to work hard, but only if its done in the correct way and with the right approach. If Music Exams become the entirety to a child’s musical experience, then chances are its not going to turn out well. In retrospect to the previous point, that’s why even if a child is going for a music exam, they need to have shorter-term goals along the way to achieving their exam. Some examples could be telling the child to be able to play this piece really well for next lesson, or being able to memorise a scale by next week. Exams can be more of a long-term goal, as it could take roughly half a year, a year, or even longer depending on the child. To nurture a love for music in the child, its important to remind them that exams are not everything.

Don’t practice on a time limit

Although having a set amount of time is a good way to practice, it can sometimes lead to practice becoming monotonous and unproductive. How often do you catch your child staring at the clock to check if 30 minutes of practice was up? If happens often, then it’s a sign it no longer works.

Although adequate time is necessary for a child to acquire productive practice, a shift in mentality on the use of the time can be extremely effective. Again by using small goals as a motive, no matter how much time it takes, is an extremely effective way to practice. They will feel a sense of achievement and practice also becomes rewarding. Not to mention they will feel the result of their progress and not just waiting for time to go by

Be creative in your practice

It’s no surprise that young children need variety when it comes to keeping them engaged and their minds stimulated. Being creative and imaginative can be an essential component to getting your child to practice. The extent of how effective this is depends really on how far your creativity takes you. Some suggestions could be to come up with different ways to play a line or bar from the music, such as playing it with your eyes closed, play it while walking around the room, play it five times in a row and if you make a mistake you have to start over. If you wanted to take it a step further, there are many ways you can make practice fun. One way is to find the game “barrel of monkeys” and to hang one on the stand each time the child play the bar/line right. Its then a contest to see how many monkeys can they hang from the music stand. You’d be surprised how much a little change can go a long way. Even practicing in a different room, or even just at a different time of the day can dramatically change the way your child practices.

Practice with them

I know you’re a busy parent. One great way for your child to be encouraged to practice is to practice with them. Not in a manner that is dictating, but supportive. World-renowned conductor, teacher and speaker Benjamin Zander gave an inspiring speech on always giving the student an A even from the very beginning. This allows the child to fully embrace his or her potential. Parents that always say to the child they’re never good enough can be detrimental to a child’s progress in learning.

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