While some children will practice everyday without any prompting many parents know that getting their child to practice is at times a challenge. Chances are if you leave it up your child to decide to practice when they feel like it you are going to be disappointed when they guitar becomes largely neglected. Forcing your child to practice is also not the ideal solution because if you threaten your child with punishment when they don’t practice then they will learn to associate negative feelings with learning music. Not a good long term strategy. At times adults who were forced to practice music as children will sometimes say they gave up music the minute they left home or worse became very unhappy professional musicians. These adults can often have bitter memories of learning music.
So what’s the answer?
The good news is there is a positive solution. Here are my top tips for parents.
- Realistic expectations. Many children think learning guitar is all fun and no hard work. Dispelling this myth from the outset will set realistic expectations. Set the rules from the very beginning. Write them down and get them to sign the agreement. E.g. 10 minutes a day practice for 1 year.
- Parent involvement. Parents who leave it totally up to their child will generally be disappointed. Getting involved will encourage your child to practice because children seek parental attention. At first sit with them everyday or even try learning with them. Overtime you can gradually back away.
- Consistency. Set a time each day for practice and stick to it. E.g. 5pm each weekday. If their routine is broken try to get back on track asap.
- Make it a game. When they are doing a particular exercise make a game out of it. Clap along. Sing along. Point to notes and ask them the names of notes.
- Monitor their progress. If they know you are cheering them on they are more likely to want to practice. Children love to impress their parents but to impress you they need to see that their achievements matter to you. Applaud even the smallest of achievements.
- Reward behaviour over results. The behaviour we seek is positive daily practice. Try not to focus on results too much. Rewarding them for practicing will encourage more practice. If its all about results children are more likely to give up before they get a result.
- Communicate with their teacher. We work with children and parents everyday and discuss challenge online with other G4 Guitar teachers. We have solutions to almost any challenge you can think of and we are here to support you.
- Focus on the positive. Its best to look at what they are doing well and highlight the fact. E.g. “I can’t believe you have done 3 hours of practice this week. Isn’t that a new record?”
- Focus on practice. – Remember its the habit of practice we want to cultivate. Studies show that results come ultimately to those who practice the most and who find practice a positive experience.
- Parent Guide. – Lastly make sure you grab a copy of the G4 Guitar Parent Guide.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact myself directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org