One of the hardest tasks you have as a parent is convincing your children to practice their instrument. In the digital age, you’re at a disadvantage as distractions are everywhere. A full season of DreamWorks Dragons is just a swipe away on Netflix and their phones host a myriad of apps that demand their attention as Facebook and Snapchat notifications go off nearly every minute. It can seem like even the old-fashioned outdoors is against you as the nice weather has your kids spending more time outside than practicing their guitar inside.
10,000 Hour Rule Is Too Boring!
Practice makes perfect is a saying for a reason. They can’t expect to play through their favourite song if they let their guitar or keyboard collect dust. Some experts say that as many as 10,000 hours are needed to become accomplished at any skill, including a musical instrument. But if your children are hardly 10 years old, the concept of 10,000 hours may be too great for them to comprehend. You may as well be telling them they have to practice for their entire life non-stop before they’ll be any good at it.
Though you’ll hear some professionals suggest you adhere to a 30-minute practice each day (or every other day), you may want to avoid the idea of time altogether. Time can be discouraging when it’s within the context of the 10,000 hour rule; it can also be more harmful to their progress in their day-to-day rehearsals, as they’re more focused on completing 30 minutes at the fret or keyboard than actually focusing on or enjoying what they’re playing.
Break It Down & Don’t Be Afraid To Bribe
Remember another popular saying that quality is better than quantity. You can help them understand their goals by breaking their practice time down into significantly smaller tasks. Instead of focusing on the exact number of minutes with their instrument, direct their day’s work on a specific chore. Get them to play through several bars of a new song without a single mistake, or have them memorize the key signature of one scale from the brown book.
Of course the ‘M’ word may be just enough to scare them off. In which case, don’t feel ashamed to entice them with something they like to get them to practice. When they can watch their favourite TV show or eat their favourite food for dinner they may change their feelings about memorization.
Speak With The Professionals
If you haven’t already enrolled your children in beginner’s music lesson, this may be the time. Qualified music instructors can tailor their teaching style and content according to their pupil, so they can create a curriculum around your children’s interests and learning style. Many of the top national music stores offer the best early music education in your city. If you live in Canada, a store such as Long & McQuade has a huge roster of professionals that can inspire your kids to play their instrument. The music lessons at Long & McQuade can involve laid-back sessions designed to introduce them to their instrument or directed lessons to get them ready for Royal Conservatory examinations. Whatever it is that you and your children need, these professionals can customize their approach.
Together, you and your children’s instructor can brainstorm some ideas to get them practicing. It may take some effort testing out different methods, but you’ll find something that works eventually—especially if you include your kids in on it. Ask them what they need in order to enjoy playing their instrument, and you might just be surprised by how simple their answer is. Help them find inspiration in the face of technological distractions, and get your kids practicing again!