So your kid has shown some interest in learning to play an instrument. You know you’ll need to find the right instrument, a good teacher and a space for them to explore and practice their chosen equipment.
That’s all very well and good, but kids can be fickle creatures and no matter how excited they are now, that enthusiasm may dwindle somewhat six months down the line.
To avoid investing in something that your kids will eventually become fed up with, this blog explains how you can encourage your children to stick at whatever they choose to play.
Let Them Make The Choice
You may have been a fantastic guitar player in your youth, but just because you enjoyed it, it doesn’t mean you kid will. It’s important to let them explore their interests so they can make the right choice for them.
It’s incredibly important to let them find that instrument that turns their head. Sure, you enjoyed the guitar, but if a piano is what gets your child’s blood pumping then don’t stand in the way.
If you thrust an instrument onto your child, the practice will be thrust upon them too and will eventually become nothing more than a chore. The natural enthusiasm for their instrument is what keeps them going back for more.
Encourage Their Musical Development
While there are some songs and musical pieces that lend themselves more towards certain instruments, your child will lose interest very quickly if they don’t like the music they’re playing.
As we grow up our music tastes become more clearly defined based on cultural, parental and peer influence, which means that no two people will ever have identical musical tastes.
We begin to develop a real understanding of what we like and what we don’t as we enter the double digits, and from about nine or ten onwards it’s important to encourage your child to explore and develop – even if you’re not a fan.
Teach Your Child The Gift Of Music
Playing music is often a deeply personal thing – only the musician truly knows how they feel about a certain song and why they chose to play it in the first place. If this connection is lost, this lack of curiosity and natural interest in the process makes learning more difficult.
Motivation using reward vs punishment is not a good solution, instead encourage your child to learn and further their education on their own. Parental encouragement is an incredibly powerful catalyst for a child and if they see how much joy and satisfaction you get from music, it’s bound to rub off.
The opportunity to play an instrument is a privilege and not one that’s available to everyone and it’s important to show your children this.
Music has been a way to communicate and express feelings for millennia, and while this concept might be difficult for a younger kid to grasp, teaching them appreciate music helps them to understand why practice is key.
Find A Good Teacher
Most practice will be undertaken in-between lessons, but if you can find a teacher that truly connects with their students, it will certainly encourage them to practice more in their own time.
The right teacher can make or break the experience. If your child isn’t connecting, don’t be afraid to try something a little different. The best teachers are normally those that transcend the typical ‘teacher’ vibe to become something more like a friend and mentor.
You could hire the highest ranked, most expensive teacher in the country but if they’re unable to get to grips with the way your child learns they simply aren’t right for each other. If the teacher can explain concepts in a way that keeps your son or daughter engaged, there’s a more chance they’ll be willing to go the extra mile.
Practice Isn’t an Obligation
This sounds like a little counterintuitive. You’ve invested money into lessons and a brand new instrument, so you want your child to make the most of it.
However, if you’re not careful you can end up turning practice into homework. Offering a carrot such as playing computer games or playing basketball as a treat for completing practice turns what should be a fun activity in a laborious chore.
Flipping this on its head entirely, by offering your child the chance to practice after they’ve completed their chores with no strict time limit encourages positive reinforcement.
You’re Their Biggest Fan
As with any undertaking in life, we like to know that someone is taking a genuine interest in our progress. This is especially true for children, who look up to adults for guidance and inspiration.
Make a special effort to really listen to your child as they play and really listen out for improvement; ensuring to tell them so as well.
Learning to play an instrument is a long journey and some days, particularly after a bad lesson, they’ll feel as though their progress has stalled. Whereas some weeks their progress will come on leaps and bounds.
Celebrating the little victories by charting progression is a great way to ensure you’re child doesn’t get too disheartened when things just aren’t quite where they want them to be. You can point out how well they’ve done and show them how far they’ve come in such a small space of time.
Learning an instrument is a lot like learning to drive. It takes time, patience and fortitude, but little-by-little you get better and better; before you know it you’re out there doing it on your own and those little things that once seemed so hard become second nature.
Encouragement is an important part of growing up, and when your child has decided to undertake a big project like learning an instrument it’s important you show a keen interest to further their process.