Your child is learning an instrument – my top 3 tips on how parents can help!

First of all, I am thrilled that your child is learning an instrument and that you are taking the time to research how to help your child be successful.

Although many parents are supportive of music lessons by paying for lessons, it can be a bit of a mystery how best to help your child in between lessons.

Here I am going to share my top 3 tips with you that will help your child feel confident and make progress each week.

  1. Be careful not to turn practice into a punishment or chore

This tip is super important because no one wants to do activities that seem like a chore or punishment. Let’s be honest doing the laundry before you can sit down and watch your favourite show doesn’t really sound a lot of fun!!

Yet, it is easy to make this a reality. So how do you get a balance?

Encourage your child to see practice as an opportunity to self-care and to unwind from the day. A chance to be expressive and experimental. An activity that brings joy to their day.

Your teacher might recommend 30 minutes every day – but don’t force that with a stop-watch. If your child is tired, hungry or thirsty then 30 minutes practice will not be as productive as 10 minutes of focused time.

Also, listen to your child practice and praise their progress. I know that can seem hard to do when they are beginners making strange noises up in the bedrooms but your encouragement and support really does go a long way. Focus on the improvements you hear and of course share videos with family – children love to feel a sense of achievement and recognition.

2. Consistency is key

Practising and improving needs to become part of the weekly schedule for your child and of course that will impact you too. The lesson with your teacher is really coaching advice but the time in between lessons is where the learning becomes cemented into the brain and muscle memory. Think of it like going to the gym – the instructor can show you how to use the gym equipment but if you don’t repeat it regularly you will forget how it works but more importantly you won’t get in shape. This is the same for playing an instrument or singing lessons.

So, look at the week and be honest when your child can practice. If your child is in elementary school you will need to schedule the time but older children can be encouraged to be responsible. My advice, avoid practising late at night after homework, clubs and dinner – it just doesn’t get the best results as children are often too tired. When I have suggested first thing in the morning or before school to my students as a valuable time-slot, many have seen great results. It’s looking for time slots that can be consistent each week and then scheduling them into planners, diaries and calendars.

3. Creating an environment for effect learning

Creating a calm space for practice is so important. Too many distractions means that your child will struggle to get in the flow for practising. Reduce the distractions and you will see an improvement to focus and learning.

Ensure your child is ready for practice – if they are hungry, thirst or really tired then they will struggle to stay focused. Water in the practice space is a great idea.

Lastly, buy the tools to help with practice. A music stand is a must – having the music at the right height is essential for good technique and posture and avoids injuries and pain in the future. Ensure your child has headphones (if appropriate) and a piano stool that is the right height. It does make a huge difference to technique and posture. Buy the books and accessories such as reeds – I understand the cost but a bad reed for weeks will ruin any enjoyment your child has for playing and practising. This also goes for instruments – really ensure you get good advice from the teacher about an instrument that will last and then make sure it is serviced annually. We do this for our cars to keep them working in great condition and the same applies to musical instruments.

I hope you find these 3 tips help you and if you have a week where things don’t come together – don’t panic. Start again the following week, music teachers are there to support and understand.

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