Keeping the Beat: Encouraging a child to practice music at home.
Inspiration is a lonely thing. Why? Because even though when it exists in an individual, it is only embraced in moments of competition, when there’s a need to impress, or the desire arises to do something that looks or sounds cool.
These are some of the main reasons why kids do not feel the need or want to practice music once they get home from school. At that point, they are basically on their own to do it. In school, the music teacher is constantly expressing enthusiasm about music by being a part of it with them, urging them on to “play your part so I can play mine” or so others can play theirs, which inspires the child, giving the inspiration support.
So at home, parents need to demonstrate their enthusiasm for music as well. But avoid the spiel about “why its important to practice”- they’ve heard it already!
You as a parent may say, “well how do I do that when I can not play an instrument or sing” ? I say, then turn your child into a momentary music educator… show them you don’t know as much as they do about the music they are learning, but because you love music so much you “would like to learn”. Ask them if they would be willing to show you a note or two. Generally it is suggested that elementary school age children practice for about 15-20 minutes a day, therefore they may be working on a few notes or small part of a song. If they are willing to show you the notes, turn those notes into a mini jam session between the 2 or 3 of you! This approach will nurture fun, creating a comfortable atmosphere for the child to develop some musical skills in and prevent stress about learning the assigned piece. If they have an instrument and yours is voice, then sing every note they give you no matter how slow they do it or silly it may sound to you. This will help “walk” them through the exercise. Believe me, this can easily turn into a 30 minute session without it ever feeling that way! More time with your child, you learned something, your child has spent more time on the instrument, confidence has been built and inspiration in tact!