As a parent, how many times have you diligently asked your child to practise only to hear “I don’t want to practise” or “I’ll do it later”. As a teacher I had my magical powers to encourage my students to practise but as a parent these magical powers disappeared. I was now a parent trying to get her child to practise….and not always successfully.
At first I had all hope that I had the tricks of the trade to get my son to practise…I was a music teacher. But to him…I was mum. To him I didn’t know what I was talking about and any attempts of helping usually ended up in an argument with both of us feeling frustrated.
So is practising the responsibility of the child, the parent or both?
I believe it is a combination of all three. The age of the child and their personality comes into play. Some children are self driven and willingly practise, others it may take a simple reminder however, others it may feel like you enter a battlefield.
How can we encourage our child to practise without entering the battle zone?
- Choose reasonable times to practice: If you don’t choose reasonable times to practice, be prepared to deal with the consequences! Practicing is challenging enough. Don’t let the time of day you practice work against you.
(Helping Parents Practice – Edmund Sprunger)
Ask your child to problem solve when would be the best time for them to practise their instrument and make it a part of your family routine.
- Don’t talk about focus, develop it! Sometimes it is difficult to eliminate all frustrations from your life so that you can avoid getting overwhelmed during practices. (Helping Parents Practice – Edmund Sprunger)
Sometimes we need to let our child direct their own practice and choose what they would like to work on for that day. This may not be what we ideally had in mind however, they are learning to take responsibility for their own practice.
- Keep the focus on making things easier: The purpose of practice isn’t to learn how to try really hard to play a piece, but to repeat things so that they become easier. (Helping Parents Practice – Edmund Sprunger)
Encouraging your child to repeat things can be met with resistance. Try finding common ground and then build the repetition from here.
Through these experiences, children not only develop their instrumental skills but the emotional resilience they need in order to take on challenges. (Helping Parents Practice – Edmund Sprunger)
Director BTR Performing Arts Academy