Get your Child to Practise Regularly in 9 Simple Steps
Not all children are self motivated to practise, so how do you encourage your child to not only practise but get the most from their practice? Here are 9 simple ways:-
1. Set a routine - give your child a regular time to sit down and practise for a set amount of time. The time of day is not important as long as it does not clash with other activities and is convenient to adhere to.
2. Give a reward - give your child a reward each time they practise. Get creative with rewards, children love collecting things and "leveling up".
3. Make an exchange - for example allow an hour playtime/computer/tv time if they practise for 15 or more minutes.
4. Check they are really practising - are they practising or just 'playing around'? Both are important for musical
development and children love just playing around. Young children have less concentration and are more likely to need much more 'play around' time than practice time. Rather than discourage 'play' time make sure that they have also included tasks set in their practice book, such as scales and pieces. Practice includes a lot of repetition so playing through pieces and scales once is not enough.
5. Try little and often - sometimes younger children can benefit from a little and often approach. Since their attention span is shorter a few practice sessions of 5 - 10 minutes are often better than one longer session.
6. Notice them - something as simple as telling them you enjoyed a certain piece of music they played can encourage them to keep playing it.
7. Less Pressure - give them space to progress at their own pace. Reward practice rather than progress as progress always follows practice.
8. Allow breaks - it's ok, and even beneficial to have breaks from regular practice. If they don't feel like practising, give them permission to 'play around' on their instrument, experiment or make up a song, they can also just listen to music instead.
9. Keep the instrument out - instruments that do not get put away are much more likely to be played. Keeping the instrument set up and music out encourages children to play.
Practice is an important part of the commitment to learning an instrument, it is a lot of fun and incredibly rewarding, however it isn't always easy. Going through the difficulties can be discouraging for children as they don't always comprehend the bigger picture and the rewards and benefits they may get from their practice. It is up to us as parents and teachers to encourage and motivate children to not only understand the importance of practice, but to believe in their abilities to succeed.
(Updated - Originally published 2015 for parents)