What is the greatest challenge for parents of young musicians? Speak with just a few, and you will quickly find a common response…motivating children to practice. Just teaching music to kids is not enough. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Only by practicing their craft regularly do musicians learn to play confidently and skillfully. So how can you motivate your child to practice and improve, without nagging or arguing? Here are some tips for parents, whether you are teaching music to your children or just encouraging their musical development at home.
- Make music come alive for your child. It’s difficult for children to understand the long-range benefits music can have on their lives. As adults, we know that playing music aids physical, mental and even emotional development. Later in life, enjoyment of playing or even just listening to music can reduce stress levels and provide sheer joy. So how can you get these concepts across to a young child? Try some of these strategies:
- Take your young musician to a concert or to see a demonstration of a musical instrument playing – the smaller, more intimate group the better.
- Watch a friend or relative play an instrument – rates high on the list of motivational experiences.
- Best of all… learn the instrument along with them. Don’t just sit next to them, get an instrument or take turns playing. There’s no better motivator then a parent that loves to play.
- Play classical music during homework time.
- Put on a symphony or ballet and dance to the music to express the emotions.
- Use interactive games, like the ones found on the AtPlayMusic apps, to teach kids about different elements of music. Any of these ideas will help your child develop his/her own love for music, which will translate into motivation for learning to play music themselves.
Understand what motivates your child. Some children are self-motivated to practice, but they still need encouragement and compliments. Others may need more concrete incentives. The better you understand what motivates your child, the more support and encouragement you can provide.
Create a reward system. For some children, all it takes is a sticker chart. Just filling in each box with a sticker when the day’s practice session is completed provides all the satisfaction they need. For other children, earning stickers might lead up to a reward. For example, five stickers earned in a week could result in a trip to the movies. Or 10 stickers earned in two weeks could mean a visit to the store with a crisp $5 bill. Tailor the incentives to your child and his or her interests. Many children enjoy spending quality time with their otherwise busy parents, so sitting down with your children while they practice may be reward enough.
Give your musician a chance to perform. When children take music lessons from teachers, they are often given the opportunity to take part in a recital. This helps young musicians set goals, such as learning a particular piece by a certain time. But recitals don’t have to be a formal affair. Invite over a few relatives or friends for a brief show and refreshments. Or, organize a small, informal group recital with other parents of young musicians. This makes learning music a social activity and helps your child feel like part of a community of music-lovers and musicians.
The AtPlayMusic apps combine some of the best minds in music with today’s animation , performance capture technology and game software to produce a user-controlled tool to accelerate the ability to play music. Be sure to stay up to date on the latest news and information about the AtPlayMusic app features and updates. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay connected!