Practice and Parental Involvement
There are three people involved in every young person's music program; the student, the teacher and the parent. Children are especially open to learning music, and given the right circumstances, can assimilate musical concepts fairly easily. However, even a highly motivated child will experience difficulty in establishing and maintaining a practice routine at home.
Most young beginners lack the foresight and discipline to project throughout the week all of the material covered during their lesson. It takes a few years for anyone to establish a firm practice routine, and this is particularly true for young children.
In order to help younger students develop good practice habits, a positive and supportive environment needs to be created for them at home. A special place to practice needs to be set up, without distractions from television and computers. Establishing a regular 'playing time' is important too, at a time that suits your child's own energy level and ability to concentrate.
Plenty of praise from anyone listening encourages a child's best efforts, and helps them through tougher periods, when mistakes are being made. Encourage your child to spend a little more time on problem areas. Positive attention always works better than negative comments about how something should sound.
Learning to have self-discipline in order to master an instrument does not happen overnight. There are peaks and valleys all throughout the learning process, and these can be navigated by both teacher and parent in a positive and supportive way, so that a youngster stays motivated and does not give up on his/herself.
Even if a child loves coming to his/her lesson but dislikes practice at home (or outright refuses), steady positive encouragement will help the development of self-discipline to eventually take root. Learning in a weekly lesson will become the practice, until the student gradually improves enough that self-esteem increases and playing at home in front of everyone becomes enjoyable.
Music can be fun. Parents are often telling their children to 'have fun' as they go into their lesson. But music is also work. Introducing your child to the kind of work that is involved in learning a whole new musical language requires understanding and patience. Parents can be sensitive about the work involved by not stressing the need for certain results to be achieved before a student has discovered their own musical ability.
Looking for the result negates the value of the learning process itself. It is the time we spend learning to play an instrument that helps us to grow as people. As with other art forms, music helps us to express a deeper part of ourselves. Valuing the entire music learning experience as it unfolds is valuing our unique inner life and how it expresses itself.
Studies have shown that music uniquely enhances higher brain functions required for math, science and engineering. As well, it increases self-esteem, stimulates the imagination and brings many hours of enjoyment, whether we are playing music by ourselves or with others. Clearly, the time and effort we devote to learning musical self-expression is well worth the rewards.