One of the most asked questions we receive is how parents can best support their child in beginning music lessons. Through years of teaching and managing hundreds of students, we have encountered every possible situation and learning style. The sad truth is many parents will get in the way of their child’s growth, even with the best intentions. Here are some ways you can best support your child in any new endeavor.
1 Don’t tell your child how hard learning an instrument will be!
This may come off as lying to your child but hang in there for just a minute. When a child takes on a new endeavor or situation, they look to their parents on how to react. If you continually tell your child how difficult a task will be, soon they believe it will be too hard to try, practice, or fail.
Practicing the same piece over and over is about playing through the obstacles. Practicing music means there will be many mistakes. Don’t focus on that aspect before they even have a chance to try or work through a problem.
Instead: Reinforce how exciting starting a new endeavor will be. When they make a mistake or fail, encourage them to work through it with kindness and calm. Know that a beginner will be vulnerable at any age. Be their rock, not their downfall.
2 Be patient in their practicing!
When beginning music lessons, be prepared for your child to play the same song repetitively. Have patience when they first start out. Never tell them their practicing is annoying. In that one small song, they are not just learning the song. They are learning the note values, tempo, technique, finger positions, hand positions, mathematical skills, and so much more! They are learning musicianship.
Do not come down on them too hard if they are struggling to play a song. Sometimes, it’s enough they are trying over and over again just to temporarily fail. So what if it sounds terrible right now? They will work through it, learn from it, and excel at it in the future.
This will take time. Just know both of you are not just investing in patience and time. You, as a parent, are investing in their character building and a life-long form of expression.
3 Make your child practice!
Contrary to popular belief, it is not the teacher’s responsibility to make your child practice. In most cases, the teacher is only there once a week for a limited amount of time. In that lesson, the teacher can only teach and encourage. Only someone in the home on a regular basis can make a student practice in the home on a regular basis.
Encourage them to practice daily. However, it’s not a requirement for them to do so for an hour or 45 minutes a day. As long as they practice daily, it’s okay if they only do so on weekdays after they come home from school. The idea is to foster their new interest, not stifle it.
Having difficulty with getting your child to practice? Have your child sit at the piano or with an instrument for 15 minutes a day. In that time, make sure there is no television, electronics, or distractions nearby. In those 15 minutes, they may or may not practice for the whole duration. But 9 times out of 10, they will eventually play something because you have removed all other entertainment and interruptions. Doing this will also help in building the habit of practicing every day.
4 Don’t force their progress!
Every single person learns at a different pace. This will be the same for students beginning an instrument. The beginning will most likely be at a slow pace. If your child does not progress at a specific rate, keep in mind how old they are and how long they have taken lessons.
For instance, a 6-year-old guitar student will progress much slower than a 9-year-old. A student who has taken for one semester will not be as good as a student who has had lessons for five. So much information is jam packed in the first six months of beginning music lessons just in general. Our teachers teach to each student’s pace so trust the process. We have you covered.
5 Take an interest in their new interest!
The best way to learn is to teach! After your child’s lesson, don’t be afraid to ask them what they have learned by having them play teacher. This can be a fun activity as this would give them the chance to be the teacher and you would be the student! Your child will feel like they are playing a game and you will know what information they are accountable for in the next lesson.
This would reaffirm concepts the teacher instructed and help transfer their short-term memory to long-term memory in a concrete way. Plus, this can be an incredible bonding experience together!
Music lessons are supposed to be fun and they can be. To best help a student beginning music lessons, the keywords are patience, time, and foster. Have patience in the beginning. Give them time to practice and grow. Foster their interest and practicing. These methods can transfer to any aspect of life and will surely lead your child in the right direction!