Practicing a musical instrument with your child is difficult on its own. There is a lot to remember–assignments from your teacher, technical points, and more.
You have to manage your time.
You have to summon all your energy and creativity to make it fun and engaging for your child.
You have to keep any other children around from sabotaging the whole thing.
There’s a lot involved in pulling off a successful practice session with your Suzuki kid.
One helpful tool that I’m using to survive practicing with my child are mantras.
A mantra is, according to google, a sacred utterance, or a syllable, word, phonemes, or group of words believed by some to have psychological and spiritual power.
I don’t know about you, but practicing violin with a five year old requires every bit of psychological and spiritual power I can muster.
When hard times hit our practice sessions, I try to repeat my mantra in my mind and hopefully avoid a nuclear meltdown.
This mantra is my favorite, and I’m sharing it with you because I want every Suzuki mom or dad to feel confident, and enjoy their Suzuki journey with their child as much as is possible.
“I’m not supposed to make my kids happy.”
I learned this from Jody Moore, a life coach I’ve been working with and learning from over the past three years.
This thought has removed so much anxiety around practicing (and parenting) for me.
Our children are separate and complete persons. Not only is it not our job to make them happy all the time, it’s not even possible! They have their own thoughts, expectations, and feelings, and they get to choose whether to be happy or not.
Sometimes they don’t want to be happy!
As a parent, I want my children to always be happy. Their discomfort and unhappiness can cause a visceral reaction in me. I try to talk them out of their feelings.
I see many parents leaving music lessons altogether because they think that their child’s reluctance to practice somehow means that they’re doing something wrong.
On the contrary, you are providing your child with opportunities to learn how to deal with negative emotion.
Just because much of their musical experience is uncomfortable doesn’t mean you need to fix it for them.
In fact, we do our children no favors when we remove all the discomfort from their lives.
It’s not our job to make them happy.
It’s our job to love them and give them opportunities to learn.
When they’re sad or upset, it’s not a sign we’re doing something wrong. And we don’t need to fix it.
They’re just human beings living in the world, and they will (and should) experience negative emotions at times.
Everything is as it should be.
If your child fights practice sometimes (or all the time), congratulations you have a normal kid.
If your child hates receiving correction from you, congratulations, you’re in the same boat as most Suzuki parents.
It’s all good. No need to fret, or try to frantically change things up.
It’s not your job to make them happy.
And that’s as it should be.
So take it easy, and try to enjoy the ride.