“My kiddo hates practicing at home but loves coming to lessons,” is a phrase I hear from parents regularly.
Another is “I just can’t get my child to practice.”
The solution is fairly simple but not necessarily easy.
Here are my three tips for getting your child to practice guitar, piano, drums, voice, or bass at home.
Make Them Practice
This may be unpopular, but this is actually my personal favorite strategy. As adults, we frequently have to do things we don’t want to do because we like the end result:
- Working out
- Visiting the DMV
…just to offer a few.
For kids, they are forced to go to school, brush their teeth (hopefully), and eat vegetables. We have no problem making our kids do these things, so we can apply the same to practicing music.
But I Want Them To Enjoy Music, Not Hate It!
And I totally get where you’re coming from. But as you and I both know, we tend to enjoy things we are good at and dislike things we are not good at. So in the beginning, kids don’t want to practice because they’re not vey good. But as they progress, the fun snowballs because they can play more songs and execute cooler techniques.
Children typically aren’t capable of long-term planning, so we must do it for them. We train them now to have self-discipline at a young age so they are more apt to engage in other productive delayed gratification activities as adults.
Delayed gratification is one of the most common predictors of long-term adult success, so let’s start delaying their gratification from a young age by training them to focus on activities that don’t always become enjoyable until later on.
But here’s the kicker- once you develop the skill to perform music at a high level, almost nothing on the planet is more enjoyable. The pay-off is huge.
I have found a similar experience with working out. I did not enjoy the process at first, but now I love it. I enjoy the results AND the process. This is the endgame for practicing music as well.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for visiting the DMV 🙁
Don’t Call It Practice- It’s A Show!
Don’t call it practice.
“Billy, why don’t you play a song for me while I prepare dinner?”
“Susie, we want a concert after dinner. Will you play for us before bed?”
When you as a parent are actively involved in your child’s playing, they enjoy the process more. So not only does your kiddo improve their skills, they get to enjoy playing and performing right now!
Ok, hear me out- bribery is bad when it coms to officers of the law, politicians, and a host of other situations. But when it comes to our kids, research shows that bribery is quite effective (I forget where I read that, source needed).
But since the word bribery carries a negative connotation, let’s substitute the word incentive.
Employees are incentivized with money in exchange for work. Students are incentivized with rewards at school like pizza parties and choosing from the prize box.
If you do this, I will give you that
“If you practice 20 min/day for 5 days this week, I will reward you with a trip to the store/ice cream/screen time.”
Choose your parameters. Select your conditions. Track with a chart or practice log ad let the incentives begin!
In The End
Ultimately, we must each ask ourselves as parents what it is we most want for our children to get out of their experience with music lessons.
For me, I want my own children to develop a strong work ethic through delayed gratification (check out video above for details on my own experience with getting my 3 kids to practice).
I also want them to find a source of joy through a positive outlet. It could be music, but it may eventually be something else.
Determine what you most want for your child and create a strategy for practicing that fits your hopes for them.
Want a sounding board or advice for how to help your child specifically? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to learn more about our music lessons programs in Fort Worth and how we might be able to inspire your child through lessons? Download our free info pack here.
You can also schedule an introductory guitar, piano, drums, voice, or bass lesson if you’re ready!