As a young mother of 3, I wake up every day with the enormous hurdle of teaching my children music.
I’m blessed - I have a wonderful role model in my own mother who taught me and my six siblings how to play from a young age.
“How do you keep them practicing?” It’s a question I’ve heard again and again, and sometimes ask myself the same thing when the day is long. How did our mother keep us practicing?
She had 5 rules:
1. Pajama Practice. Practice first thing in the morning. The mind is fresh, and learning a stringed instrument is hard work!
2. Find A Good Teacher. A good teacher is methodical and provides your child with a horizon for success including competitions and other community events. An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree - good students point to a good teacher.
3. Perform! Seek out opportunities to showcase. What would we think of a football team that practiced but never played a game? Ask your teacher for music that you can use to play anywhere and everywhere.
4. Not Alone. Practicing music that no one wants to hear in a lonely practice room is something no one wants to do. Spend as much time as you can practicing with your child or hearing their music. Find other players who can play with them in a group.
5. Never Quit While You’re Down. Every musician has low points. There were times, after a failed competition or a lousy performance, that we would be tempted to talk about quitting or (the distinction without a difference) “re-directing” our focus to other things. But our mother held to a rule: no quitting while you’re down. You can only quit after a big success. Good psychology!
Ultimately a child keeps practicing because their instrument is something they’re good at, something that connects them with friends and family, something that enriches their life. That’s the experience we want for every child.