As parents, we all want the best for our children. We want them to have every opportunity. We want to help them succeed in their future life. We want to give them the tools necessary to be contributing adults. We try to feed them healthy food, get them involved in sports, help them with schoolwork, and many of us enroll them in music lessons.
Music lessons are a highly rewarding activity for children. Music lessons can foster creativity, self-expression, self-esteem, a strong work ethic, problem-solving skills and more. Music lessons can lead to a life-long hobby or even a career.
Unfortunately, music lessons are not as hand’s off as sports or other extracurriculars. Parents often are not prepared for the level of commitment required and seem to be mistaken about a few key aspects of a child’s music experience. There are six prevailing myths that most of the parents I meet seem to believe.
1. My kids asked to play this instrument and love their lessons, so they will love to practice.
Um no. They won’t. A small percentage of children will enjoy practicing, but you can expect even these to go through phases where they won’t want to practice. Practicing is work. Work is not always fun. However, work is an essential part of this life, and without work we become stagnant and unhappy. Work brings accomplishment, independence, and self-esteem.
2. Kids will practice without being asked.
Again, no. Practicing is work. Does your child do any work without being asked? Homework? Cleaning their room? I’m guessing no. Maybe eventually they will understand the value of work, but we’re not born with that knowledge. That is something we’re taught. By our parents.
3. Kids will practice effectively without help.
Again, this is false. Practicing effectively is a skill. Playing a tricky passage until you get it right once (probably a fluke) will not make it right permanently. It must be repeated (correctly) until it is almost never played wrong. Playing through a piece over and over as fast as you can will only yield messy results. It depends on the age and maturity of your child, but most are probably going to need your help.
4. My kids won’t argue about doing their practicing.
Good luck with this one. See number 2.
5. Making practice fun is too much work.
Making practice time fun does require some work and preparation on the parent’s part. There’s no getting around it. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Everything you need is available on the internet. There are tons of great practice charts and game ideas on The Practice Shoppe website. We even have a quick guide for parents with five easy practice games here on the Plucky Violin Teacher blog. It’s called, “Making Music Practice Fun.” Try one new thing at a time so you don’t get too overwhelmed.
6. I don’t have time to practice with my kids.
I hear you. This is huge. As parents you literally have a thousand things on your plate, and you may be juggling other kids as well. You may need to get creative. Maybe practicing in the morning is the way to go. Maybe you could streamline some of your other duties. Teach an older child to fold laundry, put dinner in the crock pot, sleep train your babies and toddlers somehow… I don’t have all the answers so I asked the pros for their best tips. You can check those out in this blog post.
Many of the parents I meet have strong feelings about music lessons. Many of these parents say that they will NEVER force their children to practice like their parents did. That they want it to stay fun for their children. They don’t want to be a “mean parent.”
I understand this fear, I too had my share of fights with my mom about practice. I do think it is sometimes just an excuse. I think you can enforce daily practicing without being a mean parent. It just takes a little extra effort and creativity.
What do you wish you’d known before beginning music lessons for your child? Please share with me in the comments, I love to hear from you.
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