Practice can feel like a problem. Yea, I said it! This blog is going to give you loads of easy, practical.. (did I mention easy??) ways to step into the role of Engaged Parent and smooth out the practice experience for your music student and yourself. Keep reading to learn how simple it really is to help your student get the absolute best experience with their music. I can tell the stress is melting away already.
Alright – let’s start with a story about a boy named Fred.
There once was a young boy who loved music, especially the piano. Fred dreamed of being able to play his favorite jazz tunes one day and always looked forward to his weekly piano lessons. His parents were so proud of his passion for the piano, although they weren’t familiar with the instrument themselves. In fact, neither of them had perused learning a musical instrument before.
Because of their lack of familiarity with music study, they were rather unengaged from the goings on in lessons and assumed that as long as Fred was happy with the lessons, they were good to sit back and observe the process from a distance. As such, whenever Fred received feedback from his mother or father, it amounted to nothing more than empty platitudes like “good job!” coupled with awkward attempts at physical praise like patting him on the back or ruffling his hair.
Sometimes during practice, he would feel confused about his goals and decide to run back through the older songs he’d learned instead. Often times, Fred would happily spend regular practice time at the piano, but wouldn’t progress through new music as quickly as he’d hoped. He found it tough to stay on top of his music study all on his own. When his parents inevitably noticed his moments of frustration, they’d kindly direct him to bring the problem to his instructor in their next session.
Engaged parents help motivate students by giving informed positive reinforcement when appropriate, which helps create a positive environment for learning.
Fred really needed more practical support at home. Unfortunately, his parent’s hands-off approach caused them to lack the practical knowledge to provide really meaningful advise, constructive criticism, or deep encouragement. While Fred was lucky to have a great music instructor, imagine how impactful it’d have been to Fred’s learning if he’d of had more informed, hands-on support at practice time.
Students really need informed positive reinforcement to create a positive environment for learning so they get the most out of their educational experience. Not only can parents motivate their children through positive reinforcement but they can also maintain an objective outlook on problems that arise during practice sessions or performances – this can help give clarity when emotions begin to run high!
Now, it’s important to notice the keyword here is INFORMED, not educated.
Parents do NOT need to know how to play the instrument their child is learning in order to be engaged. They’ve already got a teacher. They need an advocate.
Engaged parents become more aware of possible distractions or difficulties that could be hindering their child’s success.
You know your child best. This means you are more equipped to spot difficulties that arrive during practice such as struggling with concentration, lack of energy, inability to focus, or any other hindrance. All these problems can be easily solved by mixing up the way your student is practicing, having a snack, adjusting the practice schedule, altering the surroundings, or simply taking a brain break. The Engaged Parent can spot these problems at the moment and suggest any of the solutions I just mentioned.
Don’t underestimate how valuable this is!! Children haven’t yet gained the emotional intelligence to distinguish their frustration with the distraction or difficulty from their passion for and enjoyment of the instrument itself. Simply put, kids experience difficulty (which is healthy & normal) and blame the instrument itself. They NEED HELP telling the difference.
By staying actively involved and hands-on with their children’s musical journey, parents can ensure, by communicating with the instructor, that their children are getting proper instruction for their learning style, adequate attention to trouble spots, and constructive practice tactics necessary for success.
Engaged parents can assist in defining and setting reasonable expectations for practice time as well as performance goals that encourage growth, without putting too much pressure on the student during the learning process.
Setting and communicating expectations are key components to setting up the student for success. It is important to set realistic practice goals that account for the student’s skill level but also encourage growth. It is also helpful to continually remind your child of their progress so far and how far they have come since starting their music lessons – this can help instill confidence in their abilities and keep them motivated along the way! Only the Engaged Parent will be armed with the knowledge it takes to motivate in this way.
Additionally, the Engaged Parent parent will gain insight into what processes work best for their child so they can better support them by helping them to communicate their experience with the instructor. Working with an Engaged Parent also gives the instructor an opportunity to build a relationship with both parent and student, leading to better-targeted teaching methods, better communication between all parties involved, and ultimately faster progress in learning music skills. All of these measures combined will create an environment in which children feel both challenged and supported as they strive toward musical excellence!
Engaged parents are more informed about any resources available that may benefit the student musically (such as books, recordings, websites, etc.)
The Engaged Parent can take advantage of any educational materials offered by instructors; this may include facilitating watching tutorials, attending community events, reading printed documents, viewing online videos which demonstrate technique/practice methods, etc … all of these things will serve towards deepening the student’s overall knowledge regarding all aspects pertaining to an instrument/genre.
A Few Practical Ways Parents Can Engage:
- Help your music student create a realistic practice schedule that fits into their daily routine.
- Pass on the gift of time management to your kids with a simple countdown before music practice! It can help create a positive and stress-free start to their activities, so everyone can focus on having fun. I recommend reminders at 30 minutes, 10 minutes, and 5 minutes.
- If your child is struggling with a particular section, you can try encouraging them to break it down into smaller pieces, find a recording of the piece to listen to, or help them with writing about it in a practice journal.
- Offer praise and encouragement after each practice session, no matter how short.
- Help your student to write a short practice summary in their notebook at the end of each practice session. This will help keep your student accountable for their time, and help to keep you in the know about what they’re working on and how it’s going! It also serves their teacher some excellent insight into the tactics that work and those that don’t!
- Make yourself available to your student’s teacher immediately after each lesson for an informative re-cap. If touching base at this time is tough, send a quick message or email asking for a lesson recap.
- Be patient and encouraging – praise their efforts rather than their accomplishments, even if they seem small at first. This will help them stay motivated and inspired to continue learning.
- Help them find other avenues for enjoying music outside of practicing and performing, such as listening to music together, going to concerts, or attending musicals or plays. This can broaden their appreciation for music and inspire them in their own playing.
To summarize, engaged parents remain their music student’s #1 asset.
The engaged parent has the opportunity to create a positive atmosphere for learning. An effective balance of support, guidance, and structure helps students stay motivated and focused on achieving their goals. Additionally, engaged parents provide helpful services that assist growth in musical knowledge. Looking for more tips on how you can effectively engage with your own music student? Do you have any questions or insights? Let’s engage! We want to hear your stories of how engagement has been beneficial in your child’s success! Together let’s work towards creating an upbeat environment in which kids can build up confidence as they continue to grow and progress musically.
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