Helping your child to become a musician
At a glance
- Try to accompany your child to their music lessons.
- Give your child an exercise book for the music teacher to write notes in.
- Establish a routine and stick to it.
- Show your child practice is important by spending time with them while they do it.
- Set goals to motivate your child.
Expert music teacher Nick Tester gives his top tips on how to encourage your child to practise their music without the pain.
Know what your child is doing in their lesson
The best thing you can do is to regularly attend your child's lesson so you know what happens. Even if you can only attend a few lessons each term, you can ask the teacher questions and guide your child more easily in what they should practise.
If you can't attend your child's lesson, technology can offer a solution. If your child has an MP3 player, get your child work out how to use the record function and ask your child or the teacher to record the lesson. Old tape recorders are just as useful. You can then listen to the lessons at home to know what your child is doing.
Your child should have an exercise book for the music teacher to write notes in during the lesson. Go through it with your child at home.
Contact your child's teacher
If you and your child have trouble understanding something from the lesson, contact your teacher. Teachers love to be consulted because it means you've taken the trouble to think about what happens in the lessons.
Show your child that practising is important
Spending time with your child when they're practising their music shows you value what they're doing. You can also hear when something doesn't sound right and ask them to go over it again.
If you have learnt an instrument, play along with your child. If you've never learnt to play or read music, learn to read the basic notes with your child.
Stick to a routine
The earlier you can establish a routine the better. Ten minutes a day is far better than an hour a week.
Give your child a reason to practise
Staying motivated to practise music can be difficult without a goal to work towards. Here are a few ways to encourage your child to play their music.
- Join an ensemble: playing in an ensemble either at school or through the community will improve your child's ability to read music. Your child can also make friends with other musicians. If their friends practise and perform, they will be more likely to as well.
- Perform: the younger your child begins to perform the less likely it is they will experience performance anxiety when they're older. Ask your school, P&C committee and local community about opportunities for your child to perform.
- Play for family or friends: visits from uncles, aunts, friends and especially grandparents provide excellent opportunities for your child to perform. One of the best gifts you can give to grandparents is a recording of your child playing at a live performance.
- Participate in eisteddfods or exams: these performance opportunities provide a great goal for your child's practice as well as written and verbal feedback on how your child is progressing.
Music practice doesn't have to be too serious
Children get tired after school and sometimes they will just not want to practise no matter how much you try to convince them. When this happens, let them have a break and tell them to start again the next day. It's really important that your child doesn't see practice as a burden, but something that can be fun and rewarding. However, if it keeps happening ask them how they're feeling about playing their particular instrument and talk to their music teacher about it.
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