Photo by MIKI Yoshihito / CC BY
The only way to get better at something is to practice, whether it’s playing a sport, playing a musical instrument, painting, writing, etc. However, the art of “practicing” can oftentimes seem boring or mundane to a child. They avoid it at all costs and dread when it’s finally time to sit down to play or paint or write. That’s why we’ve put together a list of ways to make music practice fun, which you’ll hopefully be able to apply to all practicing endeavors.
You want your child to have a fun, yet productive practice session. That can be hard if they drag their feet when the time comes around. Here are some things to remember:
- Avoid pushing your dreams on your child. Is your child playing an instrument because they are genuinely interested in it? It will be much harder to get them to practice if they were never excited about it in the first place.
- Time of day. Some children have an easier time practicing their music in the morning than in the afternoon or evening. At the same time, others find the evening stimulating while any other time of day would result in a dull practice. Find what works for you and your family – when is your kid most naturally inclined to practice?
- Time management.
- Don’t treat it like a chore. If you view the practice time as a chore, so will your child. Avoid even saying the word “practice” if it makes them groan. Make it fun! Let your attitude be that they get to practice it – not have to.
2. Be Encouraging
Everyone has heard it: “I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but…” And just like that, the enthusiasm drops. Do not be your child’s bubble-burster! It’s not perfect? Who cares! The point is that they are trying, and with hard practice they can succeed. As the parent, you are their cheerleader who has the power to boost their self-esteem. Here are some tips to remember:
- Don’t get discouraged. Frankly, if your child is a beginner, know that it is normal for them to be bad. Most children do not sit down at the piano and play like Mozart. (And by “most,” I mean none.) It will take a regular routine of steady practice for them to start getting into a groove, which is important for your child to understand when they feel like giving up. Try to help them remember why they love music enough to try and play!
- Compliment your child. Kids love positive feedback. It doesn’t matter what you say, so long as you find something encouraging to tell them. It could even be as simple as, “It looks like you are more comfortable holding your violin now!”
- Share your child’s success! Did they just learn a new song? Post it on Facebook! Not only will they love hearing the feedback, but it might inspire other kids to start playing, too!
There are some crazy methods out there to try and help kids practice. Check out these few:
- Be involved. This is the most common approach and probably an obvious one for most parents. Ask your kids to show you what they’ve learned so far, or just hang out in the same room while they practice. Sometimes practicing can get lonely, so simply keeping them company will help.
- Play in front of the TV. We know, it sounds crazy, but it has been known to work! Instead of sitting in a room by themselves practicing, they might as well make it entertaining.
- Rewards. Come up with a system of rewards to motivate your child. Maybe you’ll take them to get ice cream after a new song is learned, or help them earn tokens for a bigger prize later.
- Penny practice. Joshua Nakazawa, renowned cellist, offers this unique method for practicing:
"You put three pennies on the left side of your music stand," Nakazawa explains. "On a troublesome measure, you play it once, and if you get it right, you move the penny to the right side of the stand. If you play it again and get it right, you put the next penny on the right side of the stand. If you play it again and miss a note or rhythm, then all three pennies get put to the left. You must play the measure correctly three times in a row in order to keep the pennies. The next step is to connect the troublesome measure to the measure before it and continue playing.”
4. Have Fun!
Music is entertainment, after all! Find ways to make each practice lively:
- Play games. Have your child check out this website. While it looks like regular games, they actually help kids learn key playing skills.
- Dance and play! Not only is it fun, but it might also help your child with memorization. (Both in taking them away from staring at the music sheets and involving them in muscle memory.)
- Explore music. Listen frequently to the stuff your child loves and continue searching for new things! Go to musicals or buy CD’s – whatever you can do to keep your kid’s passion alive!
In the end, remember that your child is the one who is going to make practicing happen. Teach them that you only get out what’s put in. Just remember to be careful in letting music be the top priority. Let it be a fun thing that you can enjoy together!
What are ways you help your kids practice? Leave a comment down below.