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Teaching Kids to Practice: 3 Things Parents Can Do…Today!

heatherkornmusicwo

4 min read

Jan 14, 2023

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Music lessons are an investment into your child’s future. The benefits of learning music and playing instruments will help your child succeed in all aspects of their lives. What is the number ONE reason kids stop music lessons? PRACTICE!!

How’s it going over there with your music students’ at home Practice? I’ve been doing this a long time and I know that there are always times during the course or music lessons when at home practice starts to fall by the wayside.


music works beatrice kid holding an acoustic guitar

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

The biggest “reason” is time management (also known as “we’ve been too busy“). Who are the biggest players in making sure practice is happening outside of lessons? PARENTS!!

Let’s formulate a plan TODAY to get your music student back on the track of making more progress in their weekly music lessons.

In my full time career as a professional private music educator for over 25 years I have taught hundreds of kids and parents how to achieve success in music lessons and how to successfully practice at home. It’s not a magic formula but it does require one piece of magic which I like to call “CONSISTENCY“.

The number one question I get from parents about lessons is “How much should he/she be practicing?” I expect from my beginning private students 15 minutes a day 5 – 6 days a week. That amounts to a MINIMUM of 1 HOUR a week of at home practice between lessons. 15 minutes seems like a long time to kids especially today when they have so many “fast” distractions. Starting with a 15 minute time block is achievable and helps kids to establish daily consistency. Think about the time and money “investment” you are making in lessons. An “investment” in lessons mean you should be seeing a return on your investment and in music lessons a “return” on the “investment” means steady forward progress, EVERY week so that the next “building block” of music can be put in place.

3 things you can Do today that will immediately IMprove your child’s at home practice routine


FIRST…

MAKE A SCHEDULE: Kids in music lessons are building new brain neural pathways when they learn music. To make these pathways “stick” so that they can continue to move forward they must be looking at their lesson materials everyday.


music works academy beatrice white and black weekly planner on gray surface

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Choose 1 or 2 days when you know that it’s not going to be a great day to get it in as your “OFF” days. This can vary each week or stay the same, it’s up to you! On school days, practice ideally should be as soon as possible after school. Practicing music is a TERRIFIC “brain break” from school work and will engage your child’s brain with high firing neurological activity which will help with attitude, focus and attention, finishing homework, reading and memorizing.

Keep a spare calendar set aside just for recording practice time if that is helpful for your child. Some kids really love to keep “track” as they go.

PRACTICE PITFALLS: *Avoid saving music practice until the last thing of the day – this is very unproductive. Try to schedule it as a “break” activity from other studying earlier in the day – you might really be surprised at how it improves other things.

Second…


music works academy beatrice clear glass with red sand grainer

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USE A TIMER!

Younger kids especially have a hard time with “TIME”. If you say “practice for 15 minutes” that is hard for them to understand. The best way to solve that problem is with the TIMER.

The “Practice Log Timer” in your student portal is a great tool to use because you can use the timer feature or enter the time manually. Using the Practice Log will also give you a running total and stats as you go. There’s no “so-so” guessing, your Student Portal Practice Log will keep track of it for you and all you have to do is log in and use it.

It’s really that EASY!! and Before you know it that 15 minutes is going to be turning into 20, 25, 30 minutes because it becomes “do-able!”

THIRD…

SET UP A REWARD SYSTEM!


two ice cream cups

Photo by Teejay on Pexels.com

Yes parents, you heard me correctly – we have to implement SOME kind of rewards plan. Kids NEED to work towards something – that is how they operate (but you already know this!) If your child is having a hard time with daily at home practice, it’s time to bring in the BIG CARROT!! Set up a rewards plan. This needs to be something your child loves and will work for and it HAS to be attainable. Aim for every 10 – 14 days to achieve the reward – 30 days to a kid is TOO LONG! Finally, you’re going to have to change the reward system as they grow. One thing may work for 6 months and then it starts to fizzle. Be prepared for changing things up! It has to be a goal that they can view as easily reached if they just put in a little bit of work every day. BE FUN! BE CREATIVE PARENTS!

Some ideas: Every 14 days of practice goals met receives:

  1. Ice Cream treats

  2. Trip to the Dollar Store

  3. Activity with Friends

  4. OTHER Special rewards – you know what your child loves and what motivates them!

Let me know how it worked for you in the comments!


Classes & Lessons


Heather Korn is a master teaching artist with a career of over 25 years teaching music students full time and preparing students for professional careers in music and the arts. She owns and operates Music Works Studio and Music Works Academy in Beatrice, Nebraska.

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heatherkornmusicwo

4 min read

Jan 14, 2023

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