Tips for Helping your Child with Practice

Photo by Lance Shields

Photo by Lance Shields

Parents often ask for help with guiding their children’s practice time at home. It can

become overwhelming if your child begins to refuse practice time or is struggling to

find the time in their often-busy schedules. Sometimes parents become so frustrated

that they feel the best option is to quit lessons or to take a break. Before making that

rash decision, we would like to offer the following tips to help assist in your child’s

musical process.

1. Schedule it in.

Making practice time an integral part of your daily schedule will help make

sure that it is never overlooked. Choose a time that you know will be easy to stick

with: right after dinner or right before bed, for example. This way, your child will

know it is an activity that is just part of their daily routine, not something to be

feared or avoided.

2. Consistency is Key.

Sometime children dread practice simply because the time length is not well

defined. To a child, their practice time may seem (and feel) like an eternity. Instead,

make it clear to your child how long practice will last (usually 10-20 min per day for

beginners, 30 min- 1 hour or more, for advanced students). This routine will be

easier to follow every single day, thus giving consistency that will help build the

appropriate muscles and memory. We find this to be much more effective than

“cramming” practice in for the weekly lesson.

3. Make Fun of Music.

There are many strategies for making practice time seem fun as well as

effective. Your teacher can help with specific guidelines based on your child’s

instrument and level. In general, you can start by setting certain achievements to

help guide the practice – such as playing a song all the way through a set number of

times. Or, take 3 M&M’s (or other small treat) and place them on your music stand

or piano. As your child plays their song (or section of music) correctly, move one

M&M to the other side. Once they earn all 3 treats, they get to enjoy their prize.