Practice: the dreaded “P” word. No matter how much your child may love playing their instrument, establishing an effective, consistent practice routine can be a quite the challenge.
We’ve checked in with our teachers to see what strategies work the best with their students to form effective, tantrum-free practice habits.
Keep Your Instrument Visible and Readily Available Between Lessons
When your child goes home after their weekly lesson, does their guitar stay in its case until the next week? Do their lesson books stay in the bag? Does their keyboard or drum kit need to be stored out of sight in between practice sessions?
Keeping your child’s instrument visible and easily accessible during the week is the number one tip our teachers recommend. Take your guitar out of its case right when you get home from weekly lessons and place it on a floor stand or wall hook. Put your child’s lesson books on their piano or music stand instead of leaving them in the bag.
Setting up a welcoming practice space in your home also helps. Invest in a proper music stand and instrument stand to make practice more comfortable – playing keyboard on the floor, for example, can cause discomfort. Creating an inviting space for your child’s instrument encourages them to play it more often, just like their favorite toy or game.
Set a Realistic, Consistent Routine
Sure, our teachers would love for all students to practice an hour a day, every day. However, not every student is ready for that type of commitment. Forcing unattainable goals can end up creating animosity towards their music lessons.
Instead, choose a practice routine that makes sense for your child’s schedule and skill level. If they are a younger beginner, set aside a short amount of time (perhaps fifteen minutes) to play their instrument several times a week. As they progress in skill, increase the amount of time until they can practice a full half hour or more for each practice session.
Also, consider switching up the time of day they practice. Mornings can be more productive than evenings, or vice versa. Find a time when your child is usually able to focus and stick to it as consistently as possible.
Half Focused Goals, Half Fun and Play
When you find a time and routine that works for your child, the next step is make practice effective. The best strategy is to combine both fun and focus in each practice session.
Give them a little bit of time to ease into the practice session. Ask them to show you what they learned in their last lesson or to play their favorite song before focusing on more challenging pieces.
Set a specific goal for them to achieve during their practice session. Your child’s teacher should communicate with you what their goals for the week are. Focus on one goal at a time – you don’t need to accomplish everything in one sitting.
If they are consistently getting stuck during the same passage, have them try repeating the most difficult measures slowly 3 or 5 times. Then, let them take a break before trying it again later. Tracking the amount of times they play a difficult section on a white board or chalkboard can help engage them in the process. Or offer them simple rewards like pennies or stickers after completing a difficult section a certain number of times.
Of course, practice also needs to be fun! After focusing on their weekly goals, give them time to play whatever they want. Encourage your child to explore different sounds on their keyboard or different effects on their electric guitar. Even if they don’t exhibit perfect technique during these moments, it’s important that they not experience their instrument as only an obligation.
Make Music and Performance Part of Their Life
The more you engage your child with music, the more they will be interested in learning about it. Play a variety of music at your home and in the car during errands. Take opportunities to see live performances, from symphonies to rock concerts (or even just watch video performances). If you yourself play an instrument, try accompanying them for fun during practice sessions.
Also, get them engaged in performing their instrument in front of others as soon as possible. Part of the reason Globalsound offers so many performing opportunities is that it gives our students specific, tangible goals to accomplish. The more chances they take to perform in front of others, the more they will practice and grow as musicians.