Kids are born with a natural love for music. When they're old enough to start playing an instrument, they usually already have a sense of rhythm and are able to catch on quickly. Sadly, around 50% of students quit within the first two years. Some get bored or frustrated from a lack of progress, often due to inconsistent practicing, and many are just overextended with other activities. As parents, our challenge is to find the balance between pushing for excellence and letting our kids be, well, kids. Here's how to keep them involved and encourage their love for music to blossom and grow.
Help them engage with their music.
Don't be afraid to sit down with them sometimes, be part of the process, and even play along. Music is supposed to be enjoyable and playing with someone else is always special. Keep in mind that it's normal for them to experience seasons with their music where they are more or less engaged. That happens to all of us from time to time, even as adults. If you notice them becoming disinterested, you could try letting them pick out something fun to play. That's where they can really see their improvement and want to push on.
Rewards and punishment don't work.
At least, not for long. When you start incentivizing your student to practice, or taking away things when they don't, it's no longer about a love for music. Your child has to want to practice if they're going to stick with it. Tricky, huh? Instead of rewards and punishment, it's better to give them options. When you're cleaning up after dinner, try letting them choose between doing dishes or playing their material. They'll be eager to practice. After all, it's better than cleaning!
Strategize the best practice schedule.
While practicing after school is the obvious choice, many students actually do better in the mornings. School can be mentally draining, so they're tired of learning by the time they get home and the practice sessions aren't as effective. Playing before school, when their minds are fresh and rested, has been shown to help students be more consistent and advance faster. Also, it's best not to mandate the duration. Who's to say 10 constructive minutes aren't better than 40 forced minutes, begrudgingly dragging their bow across the strings? Implementing a set amount of time can make practice feel like something to be endured instead of enjoyed. Instead, focus on daily consistency as a part of their routine.
Be mindful not to overextend them.
Learning an instrument requires a serious time commitment. When your kid is in Swimming on Monday, Dance is Tuesday, the Scouts on Wednesday, Chess Thursday, and Violin on Friday, how can they really connect with anything? To succeed at violin, or any instrument, you can't say yes to every other activity offered to them.
Make sure their instrument plays beautifully.
We see it often: a student is engaged, practicing, and still not making much progress. Usually, the issue comes down to their instrument being the wrong size, needing repairs, or simply being poorly made. These days, you can buy a violin just about anywhere, at any price, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a good instrument. When it won't product a moving sound or is hard to play, students get discouraged and give up, only to regret it later in life.
If you have questions about their instrument, you're always welcome to give our friendly Violin Pros a call. If it's not in working condition, we'll task it to our luthiers to fix or help get your child into the right violin outfit for them. We have student violins or rental options that are sure to inspire.
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