Keeping them Motivated: Practicing

by Rich Welker, Bronstein Music

The big challenge is to keep them practicing without being a nag. What can you do if your child appears to be "stuck?"

  • Home practice is an essential part of learning to play an instrument, so make sure to supervise your child when he or she practices at home. Your occastional presence will give your child confidence and will help establish a practice routine.

  • When should my child practice? Your child needs to be focused and alert when practicing. For some, that means the best time is right after school; others need some time to unwind. Discover what time works best for your child, while taking into consideration the needs of the rest of the family.

  • How long should my child practice? Check with your child's teacher, but for most beginners, 15 to 20 minutes a day is plenty. They are developing very small muscles in thier hands and face, and just like working out at a gym, too much exercise can do more harm than good. Also, spurts of practice with periods of rest are better than continuous playing. A suggestion (with apologies to parents who prohibit television): Use the Tv as a timer. If your child has a favorite show or shows that cover and hour, have them keep their instrument out and watch the show. Every commercial breal, hit the mute button and practice diligently until the program starts again. For every hour of Tv, there are 20 minutes of commercials.

  • Assessing Progress: Every musician develops at his or her own pace. In fact, we tell adults just starting out on a musical instrument that the progress is "glacial" and not to get discouraged. For your child, it helps to record then practicing at home, and in a couple of weeks or months, when the frustration set in, you can play the recording back to them. They will then hear that they have gotten better and that alone helps.

    Expose your child to all kinds of music, not because it's "good for your child" but because it's interesting and fun. Listen to CD's of artists on your child's instrument for inspiration. You can call us for recommendations.