Tips For parents in helping their children learning music.
Does this story sound familiar?
“My child has been taking lessons for over a year now and the lessons are getting too
hard… Even I am having trouble keeping up!”
If it does, just relax! You’re definitely not alone.
The truth is many parents feel like this when sending their children to music lessons,
especially when their children appear to be falling behind or practice starts to become a
chore at home.
It all seems far too hard and then on top of it all you have to pay a
substantial amount of money just for the honor of doing it all….It just makes you want
to quit and give up….. right!
The great news is that even though most parents with children learning music feel this
way, it can be easily overcome….And you overcome it too!
Here are some tips that you can implement with your children so you can help them achieve
their musical goals and have fun at the same time.
Tip#1:You don’t need to sit at the piano the Whole Time
That’s right….you are reading correctly!
Many people believe that in order to be successful at playing an instrument, then you must
sit with the instrument for a full half an hour (or longer) every day. Practicing consists
of playing the same music over and over again (even if you can already do it), and music
should be coming out from the room for the whole time!
This is simply MYTH!
Sometimes, you can achieve and accomplish far more by participating in more subtle, fun
activities which encourage playing skills and break up the boredom of playing and
practicing the same mistakes over and over again.
However, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t sit at the piano in order
to learn it and if your child already quite happily sits and practices at the piano and is
quite stimulated by that for a full session, then you may not need to change anything for
The whole point is… You don’t have to do it that way!
The great thing is that life doesn’t come with an instruction manual, so why should music
practice sessions!….And children don’t have to sit with their instrument the whole time
in order to be achieving their musical goals.
If you are finding that your child can’t concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time
(which is very normal), then why not move from the piano and try a few other activities.
Related musical activities could include:
- Playing a Music Related Game
- Have a turn playing a different instrument for a few minutes
- listen to a recording or watch a segment relevant to the topic your child is learning about
- practice tricky rhythms by playing along with a recording of another piece of music with a percussion instrument or by clapping
- do a worksheet
- practicing on a paper version of the instrument where your child can’t heartheir mistakes, but can get confident of fingerings.
- play a game which is related to the topic of practice
The trick to moving away from the piano for a few minutes is to make the activity relevant to what your child is learning, but to make it fun at the same time.
Tip#2: Place a high value on Music Learning
Just take a moment to think about it from your own perspective for a minute…
Would you really enjoy any activity if you?
Have already had a really busy day;
You’ve got more work to do before you head back out tomorrow and you’re already tired;
You are confined to a small space by yourself and you can hear other activity around you
that distracts you and sounds like more fun.
This doesn’t make practicing sound very glamorous, does it! And the reality of kids and
practice is – it’s not! Especially if it’s done in isolation with high expectations
placed. Added to the equation is that they feel that everyone else around is having more
fun while they are stuck there having to think in solitude. Often children don’t even
understand what it is they really need to be practicing and how to do it in the first
Now, think for a minute about the activities that you most like to do yourself.
Does it seem like you are having to work hard at it?;Is it fun?;Are other people involved
or do other people appreciate your skill in this area ?, Who is it that appreciates your
skill in this area?;Do you fully understand what you need to do and how you need to do it?
The chances are that with the things you like doing most, yes it still requires persistent work, but it seems effortless; time seems to fly; people tell you how good you are at it, especially people who are close; you feel a sense of freedom and don’t feel confined or restricted; you really understand the activity, you want to find out more about it and you feel like you want to do the activity all the time – you can’t wait to do it every day!
Just think, if you can create these feelings with your own favorite activities, you can most certainly create it for your children in practicing their chosen instruments.Children just need to be shown how and as with developing any new skill or discipline – itis a learned process.
However, the catch is- this learned process not taught in school and the only way your child will learn it is from you!
The truth is your children will do any thing to please you. If writing mathematical formula and equations makes you pleased and makes you notice them, your child will do anything to make sure they can to please you in this area and over time, they will excel.
The same goes for children learning music. If playing music makes you happy, your child will achieve in this area and will do anything to gain your positive feedback, praise andwill in turn excel at playing music.
Here are just two simple ways to help you place a higher importance on music at home.
- 1. Learn the instrument yourself
Many parents feel they can place more value on their children learning music by actually doing it themselves. After all if you both play, Shared understanding and knowledge of music and the instrument is the something you can both relate to and can therefore have fun with.
As parents, we are the role models and children merely copy and mirror our behaviors and actions. If you want your children to enjoy and playing music, learning it as an adult can be a great growth activity for the whole family. The spin off effect is practice becomes catchy when the wholefamily is involved in playing. Everyone tends to want to do it at the same time and it allof a sudden it becomes a “together” activity instead of an activity requiring solitude.
2.Set a Routine for an appropriate timeslot to practice.
I once read about a story of a very successful, fit and healthy 75 year old man who was having a birthday party. He arranged for a big occasion, many people came and he made the speeches etc..
The man had a real “taste” for ice cream, so after he made his speech, his family arranged for a huge ice cream cake to come out and was put in front of him, he blew the candles and passed everyone a piece. All except himself.
When everyone asked why he wasn’t having a piece, he replied ” I have ice cream once a month on a full moon. If I have ice cream today, I will be breaking my habit”
When I first read this story I didn’t really understand the reasoning or thought processes behind it, but as I thought about it a bit more, I began to understand what a clever,profound statement it was. This man understood the power of forming habits and he knew that if he broke his habit just once, the consequences were that his health and fitness would decrease over time. He knew that because he loved ice cream so much, if he broke thehabit even just once, then it would be enough to brake the habit over and over again and as a result his health and fitness would decrease, just because he would eat too much icecream.
I know that doesn’t seem to have much relevance to music practice with your children and to many it would seem extreme not to have a scoop of ice cream in a special situation, but the point is that the power of being able to set a consistent habit is paramount to success in playing an instrument. It just needs to be for the right reasons and it needs to be something both you and your child really, really want to achieve.
If practice time is set at a time where your child is hungry or there is lots of otheractivity happening around them or even if your child is missing out on something else like watching a favorite TV show, then practice is not going to be enjoyable.
If you and your child can arrange to form a habit of practicing to take place at aconvenient time which suits everyone at a quiet time without distraction on a daily basisand which the whole family can become positively involved in, then it is going to work!
Tip#3:Learn to become an active participator, not just a passive supervisor
You have a choice in your child’s music learning.
You can watch it all happen around you and treat the activity as a way of keeping your child busy while you’re making dinner, passively supervising and making sure that they stay in the practice room playing those songs for half an hour. Music is treated like some kind of foreign language, where no-one understands it and seems like a form of punishmentto your children, having to be endured rather than enjoyed.
You can become involved in the process. You can suggest some ideas for playing and you could ask questions and even play some games, do some activities with your children or even hold your own family concerts! The key is to Concentrate on the skills they are able to achieve positively and to gently encourage more playing to happen. It can be seen as a growing experience for the whole family and the satisfaction and rewards for your child ofplaying music will then come. People will start to tell you and your child how talentedthey are at music and before you know it, they’ll be practicing on their own rather thanbeing told to.
My aim is to hopefully influence you to be able to do the latter! Even parents who currently have no musical knowledge or experience can help and it doesn’t cost a cent more. It’s all about attitude- you can do it and it is worth it!