We're all different - we like different music, we learn differently, we think differently. That's why - although I often use the same method for many students - I tailor my lessons to the student's needs and goals. However, I only see the student once a week - that's a tiny portion of their time each week! Learning music effectively takes consistent effort. While some early beginners are able to squeak by for a few months without practicing too much, they'll eventually have to start putting some work in between lessons - or they'll get so frustrated they want to give up. How can you help? Here are some ideas:
- Be supportive and encouraging about consistent practice. As mentioned in my previous post I prefer to focus on QUALITY of practice versus time. It's ineffective to ask your young student to "go practice for an hour." Instead, encourage your child to play music just a little bit every day. Got some free time between soccer and dinner? Maybe before they get on the bus in the morning? These short bursts can be more effective in the long run as students begin to consistently play pieces correctly.
- Create a practice schedule and make it part of your regular routine. This one is HUGE. Just like doing their homework every night is non-negotiable, so should their music practice be. Having a routine and sticking to it can be the difference between a student "forgetting" to practice and a student who progresses very quickly.
- Along the same lines, creating a practice chart so the student has a visual representation of their progress can be a great motivator.
- Praise consistency and daily effort! Show your student how excited you are that they're making progress and putting time in every day. Especially with younger children (ages 7-10) where you don't need to be involved every day but still show interest, this can help immensely.
- Sit down to practice with your student - with no distractions. Children under 9-10 benefit greatly from having an adult help them practice. They still need that guidance on what to play and how it sounds, and everyone appreciates praise for a job well done.
- Listen to music with your student. Take notes on what they like - they just might be able to learn it in lessons soon! Ask them questions about what they hear, why they like it, what instruments they can pick out, etc. Listening is very important!
I'll have more practice tips in future posts. Consistent practice/playing is the number one factor for a student's success in music. I'm not looking for perfection from my students - and hopefully you aren't either! - I'm looking for progress, understanding, and joy in playing.