“What does it take to make my child a better practicer, and musician overall?” This is a question on a lot of minds of parents with their kids in lessons. When you’re a music teacher, your job is to find ways to make the best musicians you can. This means that not only do you work with individual students, but you look for trends that seem to make a difference across the board. One that I have noticed, and I’m sure all music teachers have noticed is one that is right under the parents’ noses.
Everyday I see more and more that parents who try to be as involved in their child’s lessons as possible always makes for a better student.
Yes, a good music teacher not only teaches their students the material, but also equips them with the most effective way of how to practice the material on their own. Especially with young kids, however, having another authority figure to back up what the teacher has told them, as well as giving them an extra nudge to actually sit down and do the practicing is invaluable.
Now, I’m not saying parents sitting in on every lesson and breathing down their child’s neck about every minute detail is a requirement to make a good music student, but here are some things I’ve seen parents do that has consistently helped:
Be Fully Aware Of What The Teacher Expects: A good music teacher should make this easy for you. I always let parents sit in on their child’s lesson if they so choose. This allows them to really see what we’re working on, the individual hurdles the student is trying to overcome, and the recommendations I give on how to do so. Even if you don’t sit on lessons, the teacher should walk you through what that week’s practice material consists of, and some things to watch out for. Having someone else to guide a child through their practicing ensures good habits.
Ask Questions: To go along with the previous tip, if you’re ever confused about what your child should be working on, how are you going to help them if they themselves get confused? If anything seems a bit fuzzy too you, be sure to ask the teacher to clarify. We’re always glad to help. Anytime I have a parent asking me questions, I know they’re invested in the musical development of their child, which makes me as a teacher confident they’ll do well.
Be Consistent: Young kids need to be reminded of things pretty regularly, and the fact of the matter is we music teachers only get once a week to do this. If you know your child is working on their thumb placement, or making clear notes with their legato, listen in on their practicing and make sure they’re doing just that. I genuinely believe often times kids want to do well, but if they practice poor habits at home, resetting everything when they get back to lessons is hard. Having someone else to remind them of how to practice can honestly double the student’s progress.
This also goes along with the amount of practice time the student should be doing. If a teacher asks the student to practice something for ten minutes a day, often times the parents have to step in to make sure that happens. If there are multiple people telling them the same thing, they’re more likely to do it. It can be a slippery slope if a teacher says one thing, and the parents let it slide. The student is going to take their parents more seriously and end up in a practicing rut.
Getting music lessons for your child is an investment in a multitude of ways, and obviously every parent wants to get their money’s worth. Following these steps consistently makes for better music students. Try these out, and see what it can do for your child!
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Guitar Instructor, Co-Owner
Falls Music School