Very good question and one that I often hear from frustrated parents. In fact all parents will usually have to ask this question at some point because rare is the child who conscientiously practices without the need for parent intervention. Let us say your 6 year old has come home from school all excited asking if they can learn guitar. Your initial response might be “Why not? Learning music is a good thing right?” My answer to that is yes it is good for any child BUT are you as a parent prepared to take on yet another activity? What do I mean? Well the fact is most parents of young children who take up learning guitar or any musical instrument for that matter don’t realise that they are also signing up for lessons except in a different role. Let me explain in more detail.
A child’s success depends on at least one parent
When children go to school they are learning for around 25 hours a week. This amount of time ensures your child will learn regardless of parental support. With a weekly 30 minute guitar lesson this is most definitely not the case. The real work is done at home and it is usually done by at least one parent. Unfortunately a 30 minute lesson once a week with a teacher will not be enough to succeed on guitar. The minimum practice time required would be 1 to 2 hours per week preferably done by practicing on a daily basis and this needs to be monitored and supported by a parent. When it comes to learning guitar the success of your child is largely dependent on you the parent.
Parent and child working together My advice is to initially work with your child as a 50/50 partner by establishing a daily practice routine as you would with any daily task. E.g. Brushing teeth, getting dressed etc. Learning music requires self-discipline and most young children are still learning this all important life lesson. In fact learning to play guitar is one of the best ways for a child to learn self-discipline. You should expect your child to lose motivation at times but this is when they need your reassurance, encouragement and support. If you find you are still having difficulty getting your child to practice its time to talk to the teacher or feel free to email me.Building your child’s confidenceSome parents feel their child needs to want to learn guitar with out any need for them to be involved. I have met parents who quite clearly state “It’s up to him/her. I am happy to pay for the lessons but he/she needs to show me they are committed by practicing”. This approached is almost always doomed. It would be like giving your child a book and asking them to practice reading each day. They need your help. The winning strategy is to be involved as much as possible at the beginning and gradually pull away as they learn to do it without you. Its all about confidence building.The gift of guitar The biggest and often most disappointing scenario I see is when a parent suddenly announces their child will no longer be learning guitar. In almost every case when there is an opportunity to investigate we find the child is not practicing and the parent has not spoken to the teacher about the problem. Parents simply see their child is not enjoying the guitar so put an end to the apparent misery. With communication this can all be easily avoided. Our success rate when given the chance to understand the issues around practice are close to 100% so if you are a parent and getting your child to practice is an overwhelming challenge or your child does not appear to be enjoying the guitar please speak to your teacher or email myself. Personally I believe the greatest gift my parents gave me was the ability to play guitar and it was that ongoing support that made the difference.
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