How can I help my child practice successfully?

    (especially if I am not musical!)



    is the start of a new school year and my child is going to play an instrument.  I can get all of the materials, but I can’t help him/her with practicing or reading music!  I have never played an instrument and am not musical!!”

    This is a story I have heard from many parents through the years who are concerned about helping their child to be successful on the instrument they have chosen to play.  I have decided it would be beneficial for all if I developed a practice guide for parents!  Listed below are various ways for the musical or non-musical parent to assist their child with the regular practice of their instrument.  The exciting part of this practice guide is that your child will actually have the opportunity to teach you  what they have learned.  It is said that we learn 95% of what we teach others.  By getting yourself involved with your child’s practicing you are helping them to better understand the material through teaching.

    ·         Encourage your child to practice through discipline and routine, not by fear or pressure.

    Positive reinforcement makes a world of difference in a child’s attitude toward practicing.

    ·         Set aside practice time each day according to your family schedule for the day.

    Children are involved in many activities after school that make it difficult to squeeze in practice

    time that wasn’t already scheduled.  Consistency is the key.

    ·         Arrange a special place for child to practice.  It must be quiet and free of distractions.  Good lighting will help your child to remain focused and see the music clearly.   A sturdy chair and music stand are also important.  Children may sit when they practice, however, a bed or the floor are not suitable surfaces to sit on because they misalign body posture, instrument position, and can cause muscle strain.

    Misaligned posture leads to inappropriate breathing technique and can cause cramping in the arms, neck, and back.

    ·         Listen to your child practice.  Listen for repetitive fumbling and for playing that sounds too fast.

    Even the untrained ear can make sense of certain sounds, wrong notes, and erratic rhythms.

    ·         Ask questions!  Your child will love being the expert.  They will be able to tell you about what they are learning and how it all works. 

    Make comments carefully about what you hear when your child is practicing.  Telling your child to do something may be helpful, if worded gently.  Always remember your child is the expert musician.  If your child knows you have never played an instrument, they may be resistant to accept your advice. 

    ·         Be the student.  Allow your child to teach you about the proper techniques they have learned. 

    Remember we learn 95% of what we teach