How To Motivate Your Child To Practice Guitar The Simple Way

Many parents struggle with getting their child to do guitar practice mostly because they make it complicated. There is in fact a very simple way to motivate your child to practice but it may not be what you were hoping for. You see there is this common held misconception that children should have a passion for music and want to practice. As nice and rosy as that sounds its a flawed notion for the most part and it’s a rare child who actually wants to practice. Sure, there are those special kids who just have some innate drive to want to practice but its about as common as the child who loves cleaning their room, brushing their teeth and eating all their vegetables. If you are the parent of such a child my guess is you are not even reading this right now because your child is happily doing their 30 to 60 minutes of guitar practice in the other room. Consider yourself a very very fortunate parent.

Is ‘Force’ really a dirty word?

Its almost politically incorrect today to say you force your child to do anything but its a ridiculous statement. Of course we force our children to do lots of things. Go to school, wash their hands before meals, turn off the TV/Internet etc. In fact I would bet that every single parent forces their child to do many things every single day. So let’s be honest and accept the fact that our children need our help. YOU MUST FORCE YOUR CHILD TO PRACTICE. Yes I said it and I accept that it may offend some people but they will almost certainly be those rare lucky parents (mentioned above) or, the parents who give up on their child learning music altogether because they don’t see them passionately practicing 30+ minutes a day without ever being told. 

Don’t give up when the going gets tough

At times it will feel easier to give up when your child resists practice. Most children would prefer being on a screen because learning a skill in the beginning is hard. We therefore need to stay committed. This requires consistency and and a certain amount of discipline. Note that discipline does not mean abuse. It just means at times you may need to get tough. Parents should certainly be creative and use all the positive tactics in their arsenal (see the G4 Guitar Parent Guide) but if that fails they shouldn’t just quit. The idea of giving up on your child should never even be considered. You wouldn’t give up on your child learning to read so why give up on their music education. 

Not every child will respond to positive persuasion

In my experience few parents have the energy for positive style persuasion on a daily basis. Lets just be honest here. It requires a lot of energy and creativity because children are extremely good and persistent at avoiding anything they don’t like doing. My daughter knows there are certain things she must do each day whether she likes it or not yet she still tries to worm her way out whenever possible. Her favourite word is ‘but’. “But I just have to finish this…” or “But I am hungry and I need to eat first”. Parents know what I’m talking about. Occasionally when she is resistant I’ll say to her “If you don’t do guitar practice now there will be no TV later” and she’ll respond with “That’s fine.” I follow up with “I don’t think you understand. You will still be doing guitar practice either way but you either do it now and get TV later or you do it in 10 minutes with no TV.” She reluctantly goes to the practice room and 5 minutes later she is enjoying her practice (most days) and she always feels good by the end. 

My message to parents is this.

Don’t fall for the idea that children either have a love for music or they don’t. Music is like reading. For a child to grow a love for reading they must first learn how to read. Its only once they do the work and gain the skill of reading are they then able to discover the magic of books. The same applies to playing a musical instrument. A child must first do the work and usually needs to be pushed to the point where they have the skill and then the love affair begins.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Lisa says:

    That’s great advice and how it really is. Kids can’t see the benefit of it now but will when mature enough. If practice is the same time daily also helps as you build it in to part of the day just like cleaning your teeth.

  2. g4guitar says:

    Yes exactly. Most kids tend to respond better with routine so working it in as part of their normal day is definitely a good way to simplify the process.

  3. Natalie says:

    Let me add some more thing that you guys can try to motivate your children to learn the guitar. Whenever I play some music on my guitar for my mind satisfaction. Every time I tell my five years girl that, “Whenever I am get worried or upset this one (Guitar) give me the peace. It’s has a place where you can stay, It will bring you to its place, You will feel like, waving with the wind or flying with the cloud.” that’s the thing you will have to do. One thing that you will have to give a target for the child. My girl is every day looking for this.

  4. Kids loves to learn new things if you found out that he’s interested in doing something let him but don’t force him to do it just because you’re too excited.

  5. g4guitar says:

    Victor firstly thank you for your comment. I understand that this may seem to contradict your principles and I get that because I felt the same for many years. This was because I didn’t understand children. If you ask a child if they love to learn most will look at you with an odd expression. Learning is a natural part of growing up but natural learning should not be confused with disciplines. What children love is to play. In the process of play they often learn which is great but unfortunately this doesn’t apply in all areas of a child’s life especially in the case of disciplines like learning guitar. Children will learn some things through play but there are many things they will not learn without discipline. Would you apply the same advice to learning to read and write, making healthy eating choices, exercise, general social skills etc? Of course not. Guitar is a discipline and children need encouragement and guidance because they don’t yet understand the value of musical education but they will. Also don’t confuse discipline with cruelty. A good example is junk food. Is the parent who refuses their child junk food and forces them to eat healthy a bad parent? Of course not but their methods could be considered cruel. In other words parents don’t have to compromise on expecting their children to eat healthy but they should be flexible and in no way cruel about the way they do it. The same applies to learning to play guitar. The parent can be committed to their child learning guitar without it being a negative experience. This takes practice and understanding but this is where a good teacher can make all the difference.

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