As adults, we understand that to master any musical instrument requires dedication and hours and hours of music practice. But sometimes convincing a child to take time out of their day to practice music when they would rather be out swinging a baseball bat or chasing the dog around the backyard can seem like a massive undertaking, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips on how to motivate kids to practice.
Establish a Routine – And Stick With It
Consistency and routine are an important part of every child’s learning experience. Establishing a set time every day for music practice adds predictability and ensures that your child’s music education remains a priority. Whether that time is early in the morning before class, after school or before dinner doesn’t really matter. Pick a time of day when your child is normally at his or her best – alert, relaxed and focused and mark that time on the calendar each day as practice time. Then stick to this same time. Make music practice part of your child’s daily routine and over time you’ll build a habit that’s hard to break.
Set Measurable Goals for Each Practice
The feeling you get when you accomplish a goal can be both encouraging and motivating. For your young student, write down small goals and challenges for each day’s music practice session. The goals should be achievable, as goals that are too large can be overwhelming. Focus on accomplishing specific tasks or mastering specific skills. If the musical piece to be practiced is lengthy, break it down into smaller sections. Setting achievable goals for your child helps build their confidence and self-esteem as well as their musical skills. Remember to track progress. Adding a star to the calendar or noting progress on a chart will provide a visual history of everything accomplished that day. You and your child will be proud of all the work they’ve done to accomplish their goals.
Small Incentives Can Boost Motivation
An occasional small reward or treat can go a long way toward getting your child excited about music practice. These incentives don’t have to be large. A promise of ice cream, a pack of stickers or getting to choose which movie to watch on movie night with the family will work. It’s a small recognition of their commitment to music practice and shouldn’t be too much. The goal is to help motivate them to practice, not to bribe them.
Plan Family Performances
Bring the family together and have a mini recital. Knowing that there is an upcoming performance, even if just for family and friends will help motivate your child to practice so they do well in front of an audience. An added benefit – the extra practice performing in front of others will help to battle stage fright.
Be a Cheerleader
Young students thrive on encouragement and praise from their parents. Being enthusiastic and engaged during your child’s music practice is a great way to show them how proud you are of their hard work. Provide positive words of encouragement if they struggle with a task and celebrate their accomplishments with an abundance of praise when they reach their milestones. Take the time to talk with them about how they did during their music practice and remind them how proud you are of all their hard work. By being your child’s biggest cheerleader, you can help motivate them to practice more.
Mix and Match
These tips for how to motivate kids to practice should provide you with some useful strategies to inspire your child to want to practice between lessons. Every child is unique in the way they learn and what motivates them, so use these tips as a launching pad to build your own strategies. Combine these tips, be creative and try new things. As the parent, you’re in the best position to know what will work for your young student. Finding the right solution takes patience and understanding, but your praise, encouragement, enthusiasm and engagement will get your child excited for music practice and will set the stage for a positive learning experience.
For more information on music practice, check out our blog post, “The Importance of Piano Practice Between Lessons.”