How Pro Suzuki Parents
Get Their Kids to Practice: Part II
This post is the second in a series of posts where I share the results of my research into how some parents actually make practicing happen. Part I was all about making practicing with your Suzuki student a part of your daily routine, you can check it out here. Thank you for sharing it! As I studied parents’ responses to these questions:
How did you find time to practice with your kids?
How did you motivate your kids to practice?
I was struck by how similar most of the answers were. The most common suggestion was to make it a part of the daily routine, and the next was this:
PRACTICE IN THE MORNING.
The number of parents who said that this was the key to their success was astonishing to me. Why is practicing in the morning so effective? Here it is, in the words of the experts:
Lindsay Kemeny, (a pro parent in my studio!) says,
“We have started practicing first thing in the morning, and its amazing how much better it works for us! We used to do it in the afternoons, after school. But there were always so many distractions…after school activities, homework, tired from a long day, my other kids needing things, etc. It was so hard to be consistent! But practicing in the morning eliminates all that. I love it!”
I don’t know about you, but I hit a wall about 3pm. After a long day at school, those little brains need a rest…and they still have homework! Practicing first thing in the morning catches your Suzuki student when they are fresh, and you don’t have to worry about conflicts with after-school activities or play-dates.
My own Mom always had us practice in the morning. She says,
“As a parent it was easier for me to practice early in the day when both my child and I were fresh. If we didn’t get practicing done early, it felt like it was ‘hanging over my head’ all day. When we were finished, we both felt great knowing we had accomplished something.”
Are you familiar with the book, Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy? The title is based on a quote by Mark Twain,
“If you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day.”
Not that practicing with your child is like eating a frog but…well, sometimes it is probably like eating a frog. If you get it done early, it’s done, you can feel good about accomplishing something tough, and you can move on with your day!
Claire Allen, a fellow teacher and blogger, shared this tip,
“A friend of mine does “Violin Breakfast” with her daughter – they do 20-30 minutes of scales, exercises, and etudes before breakfast!”
While I don’t know if most kids (or myself) could handle practicing before breakfast, having some breakfast and then practicing while the rest of family eats might be just the way to start the day.
Holly Blackwelder Carpenter, a Suzuki teacher AND a Suzuki parent says this,
“It is hard to find time, especially when I’ve been teaching all day long. My goal is before school, but that is hard to do sometimes. I just make sure we do it and I have learned to know when I have to adapt the practice and choose 10 good minutes over 30 minutes of “junk” practice. Frankly, I don’t worry about motivation, there is a requirement in our house that we practice, even when we don’t want to, just like we always brush our teeth and everything else that has to be done in our home.”
Some days are crazy, and it doesn’t get done. That’s ok! As long as you are trying to be consistently consistent (which is totally different from perfectly perfect), your child is going to make progress. The more consistency you have, the less resistance you will have from your child.
While mornings seem to be the power hour for many Suzuki students and their parents, it’s not one size fits all! If you really can’t add practicing to your morning routine, don’t despair. Find a time that works for your family. Every child is different, and you know yours!
Emily Harkey says,
“We have four Suzuki kids. Two violinists, a cellist and a pianist. My 12 year old practices before school, my eight year old practices after school and the other two …well, we fit them in when possible…in between making dinner and homework in the evenings.”
Obviously, all four children can’t practice before school, that would be crazy. But they’ve found a way to make it work and to be consistent. If they know that practice time is coming, if you don’t just spring it on them, “We need to practice right…now!” You will probably have less of a fight.
Here’s your challenge: Decide when you will practice with your child, pick a consistent time: Is it in the morning? Right after school? Right after baseball practice? Think about your child’s temperament and pick a time that will work for him (or her.) Let us know what time you chose in the comments.
Calling All Parents! Make sure you don’t miss Part III of this series by subscribing to our parent newsletter! After you subscribe, we will also send you our free pdf guide: Make Music Practice Fun: 5 Simple and Easy Games to Play with Your Child
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Did you miss Part I of the How Pro Suzuki Parents get Their Kids to Practice Series? Check it out here!
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