Getting the Most out of Music Lessons
Support for Practicing At Home
Here are some methods from parents that have found success in supporting their child's practicing regimen at home:
Concrete weekly and monthly goals keep students (of all ages!) on track, and will make their practice routine much more rewarding.
Helping the Student Set and Achieve Goals
Our students are asked about their long and short-term goals. If unsure, they are exposed to the wide range of possibilities, and encouraged to discuss and to formulate their own agenda.
Positive reinforcement is another essential ingredient to your child's success. Sometimes parents—even with the best of intentions can undermine their children's progress. Comments in front of the child such as "Well, is she finally making progress yet?" can be devastating to a child who may be trying their hardest and still struggling to master a musical skill.
When there are concerns (such as a child's practice habits), please contact the instructor at any time by phone privately, (out of earshot of the child). They will always be willing to discuss your child's progress or difficulties.
Make sure your child does not overhear your negative comments to others about their performance, such as: "She is slow," "He does not sound good or plays poorly," "She is lazy," "His sister plays better than he does," etc. Instead, let the child know that learning to play a musical instrument and learning musical concepts can be challenging.
It takes consistent and steady practicing to master a new piece. The fact that your child is taking music lessons already makes him/her special over his/her friends who are not. It is important to give your child a special recognition and praise for studying music.
Do not compare one child's performance against another child’s, especially among siblings who are studying the same instrument. In addition to the fact that everyone has their own learning curve, everyone also has their own cognitive style. Some can learn by having concepts explained to them while others need to learn by doing, and need a lot of repetition.
Remember that everyone, even the highly motivated and dedicated student, goes through a period of not practicing and they get in a slump. When this happens, do not put on too much pressure. A bad period usually will pass quickly enough.
Focus on the positive things to get them over the slump. Let the teacher know that your child is going through a rough time and not wanting to practice. We may need to put the current piece aside and start on a new piece that may be more exciting to the student.
Involvement with Your Child's Education
With children, parental involvement is the best insurance of success. If a child knows the parent is interested in what they do, they are often more willing to shoulder daily practice responsibilities.
Communication between students, teacher, and parents is absolutely essential. The combined efforts of student, parent, and teacher can produce superior results.
Exposure to the Arts
Children who experience music at home usually do better in their studies. Expose your child to a wide range of enriching musical styles. Attend concerts. Take an interest in just sitting and listening and/or discussing the music on classical, rock, jazz, etc. radio stations and CD’s. Let your child know that music is important.
Problems to Avoid
Failure to establish strong practice habits can be counterproductive! Children (and even adults) for the most part, do not "naturally" know how to practice. They need to be instructed in proper practicing habits, and that discipline needs to be reinforced through positive support at home. It is essential to establish an organized system for encouraging practice at home.
A child that has not been instructed in proper practicing techniques from the very beginning will invariably fall into an erratic practice habit. They will see their peers improving, and playing more confidently, as well as participating in music festivals, recitals and other musical activities, while they themselves are still struggling. This can negatively affect the child's self-esteem and attitude towards music studies.
Parents must avoid blaming the student, and the student mustn’t blame themselves when a current teaching or practicing method is not working for them. Everyone has their own way of learning, so it is important to realize that any given method may not be right for all students. Discussions with the parents, student and instructor will determine the best approach to take.