Get Ready To Reset Your Expectations
You’ve got dreams for your kid.
You want them to grow up to be a successful contributor to society rather than a top performer in their Fortnite squad. For the record, I’m pretty ok at Fortnite myself (students are never impressed 🙁).
You want your kiddo to figure out who they are. To become confident in who they are, no matter what path they take.
You want them to be self-disciplined and hardworking.
And the cool thing is, that’s what we do all day everyday at Fort Worth Music Academy. We give kids a safe place to become more creative, push them to be more disciplined through practice and build their confidence through long-term commitment to their instrument.
But I gotta be real with you- it’s a loooooooong process.
Your child will not magically practice on their own Day 1. In fact, they still won’t be practicing on their own by Day 101.
But have no fear! I’m going to reset your expectations and give you the reality of what the music lessons process is really like over the course of the first 6 months, 2 years, 5 years, and 10 years.
Your Child’s First 6 Months of Lessons
They’ll be so excited for their first lesson and getting their hands on a real musical instrument for the first time. They’ll leave their first experience with us ready to get started, and you’ll be excited for them to practice every day and fulfill their untapped potential.
Except they won’t practice. But we’ll get to that.
They will enjoy their lessons with us right away. In fact, they’ll look forward to them (unless you’ve had to pry an iPad from their surprisingly strong hands to get in the car) and they will always leave their lesson happy.
But what they won’t enjoy is practicing at home.
About 2 or 3 months in, you’ll start to get concerned that your child either doesn’t have the natural talent required (they do) or that they don’t really want to play bad enough (they do).
Here’s the reality- your child simply doesn’t have the practice habit installed yet. I compare it to brushing your teeth. Remember when your kiddo was a toddler that threw their toothbrush across the bathroom every night and complained about how dumb and useless brushing is? My 10 year old still complains nightly. We know they need it. And it’s up to us as parents to teach them the habit.
With music lessons practice, we’ll work with you to help instill this habit over time.
First, we gotta get them in the habit of playing their instrument each day. Five minutes is totally acceptable. Then work up to 10, 15, 20, 30 min over time.
You’ve got a few options for how you want to handle this:
- Hope they’ll do it on their own (they won’t)
- Make them do it (just be prepared for the complaining)
- Ask them to play a concert for you each day
- Sit down and make music with them
Of these options, 3 and 4 are the most powerful positive reinforcements.
1 is simply hopeless and leads to your child falling short of your unrealistic expectations and leads to disappointment for you and your child.
2 is actually a great option and can be used in tandem with 3 and 4. Learn more about getting your child to practice their musical instrument here.
Side Note: Why Making Your Child To Practice Music Is Ok
As your child grows up, they will frequently have to do things they don’t want to do. It’s self-discipline. And you won’t ruin your child’s musical experience unless you allow them to quit before the habit sets in.
Once the habit is set, the complaining will stop and they will naturally experience the fulfillment that comes with seeing results over a long period of time.
Warning: this may 18-24 months for your kiddo to finally stop fighting with you about practice.
Yes, it’s a huge time and energy investment for you, but let me tell you about my own daughter, Madison, who is currently 12:
Madison started piano lessons with me at age 5. I own a music school, after all, how could she not?
For the first year and a half, she complained about practice and said she wanted to quit about once every 2 weeks.
Fast forward to present day- she has total confidence on stage in front of people in any scenario including music, theater, or hosting a talent show. Because she’s been playing on stage for the past 7 years, she thinks nothing of being in front of large crowds of people.
Further, she can read music and play several classical piano pieces of repertoire from memory with ease. She also has a great ear and can figure out most melodies by ear- and that’s not natural talent, it’s training.
She plays music and makes up songs for fun. Right now she’s too busy for piano lessons because of theater and band, but she’s been asking me when she can come back to piano lessons because she misses it. SHE’S ASKING ME TO RETURN TO PIANO LESSONS.
But this takes time. Start small and stick with it. Your child’s success in music will come down to 2 things: the effectiveness of their teacher and your commitment as a parent. What it will not come down to is their own commitment. It’s on you and their teacher in the beginning. That’s it.
At the 2-year mark your child should now be practicing regularly without complaining. You will still need to remind them to practice. They will not be doing it on their own yet.
Their skills will be decently impressive, enough to entertain family at holidays and get-togethers. They will also be feeling confident playing music on stage.
By this point your child should be practicing completely on their own with no prompting from you. But that’s only if you held firm in making them practice years 0 through now.
They’re discovering their own music and looking up songs to play. They might even be writing their own songs and performing at coffee shops, churches, and their school.
Incredibly confident in their musical abilities, your soon-to-be-adult child might be considering a career in music or a music degree. Most will not, but they will definitely have the skill and talent needed to do so.
Opportunities to perform with others are frequent.
Your child now has the confidence, self-discipline, and creativity to achieve just about anything in music or life.
And it’s all because you started getting them to play music for 5 minutes/day a decade ago.
Our Promise To You
I’ve watched this process play out so many times to know that if you take music lessons with us, that’s almost exactly what you can expect from Day 1 to Year 10. Over the past 9 years as a music school owner and a few years before that teaching on my own, I’ve personally witnessed three kids grow from total beginner to 10-year students that either went to music school, minored in music, or is now considering a music degree (he’s only 16 so he still has time).
All three of them still make music today and are successful young adults (or about to be).
What I’ve seen even more often is 5 year students that are ALL GREAT. Every. Single. One.
It’s basically impossible to study music with us for 5 years and not become great. It’s basic math!
All of our 2-year students are decently good but not yet great. They just have to stick to the path.
“Don’t You Get Tired Of Teaching Beginners?”
I get asked this question a lot. And the answer is no. Never. I can watch a Day 1 student struggle through Ode To Joy or Smoke On The Water all day long because I know the process. I know exactly what the result will be.
You just have to stick with it.
Stick with them through the tears and complaining because they will complain. Stick with them when they mess up on stage and cry. Show them that it’s worth it to work through the hard stuff.
And we’ll stick with you every step of the way.
I promise the end result is worth it 🙂