Encouraging Kids to Practice

Author: David Hines  

Once your child has received his instrument and started lessons, either privately or with a school band, it is very important that they practice regularly. Playing a musical instrument is like any other skill - it requires regular practice and rehearsal in order to master it. Just like an athlete must train regularly so a musician must practice their instrument in order to progress.

Easier said that done right? Children often see musical instrument practice as a chore and something to try and avoid. How do we encourage them to practice daily? The following ideas may help!

- Have a regular spot set up for the practice sessions. This could be in their room or, preferably, in an area where you can supervise them and ensure they are doing it. It only requires a corner of the room to set up a music stand and have the instrument ready and waiting to be played. If the instrument is set up and ready to play, and there is a dedicated area to practice they are more likely to remember to practice.


- Make practice a regular daily event at a certain time. Its a good idea to link practice in to homework routines. This way it becomes a good habit and part of the daily routine. Some families find early morning practice more effective as children are more responsive to learning when fresh. Change things around and see if you can create a routine that suits your family better


- Reward the child for regular practice. For example a ‘Music Money’ incentive program where children get rewarded for practice, progress and performance can be a powerful inducement. A set amount for each daily practice session can be set aside and when a target is reached the child receivess the money that they can use to spend on something they really enjoy.


- Instead of asking the child to tackle their entire music list try suggesting they practice one piece one day and one on the next. You are better off getting 10-15 minutes of good quality practice on a set piece than half an hour wasted fluffing around and not really focussing on anything.


- Become involved - Your input and attention is worth a lot to your young prodigy. Sit with your child and listen, giving them encouragement as they go. "Well done", or "That sounded great" can really make a difference to child's confidence and self esteem. A little white lie doesn't hurt - even if you find the sound excruciating a big smile and some positive words mean so much.


- If all else fails some consqequences might be your last resort. If practice is not done they cannot watch a favourite TV show, or not go out with their friends. I don't recommend this except as a last resort as it does bring a negative aspect to the musical journey. But if you can combine it with some positive encouragement it can persuade the child that they really do need to practice every day.


Good luck!

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