By Mindy Cabral, The Magazine of Santa Clarita, January 2009
“I don’t want to practice!” Is this what you hear when you tell your child to practice their instrument? If not, consider yourself lucky. Most kids don’t want to practice because they say sitting down, concentrating, and repeating the same thing over and over again is “boring”. Well, it can be viewed that way. But isn’t that what kids do when they play video games? To play an instrument and get better at it you have to practice.
Most of the time, my students say they don’t have time to practice. Usually this is because they don’t want to not because they don’t have time. Instead of thinking about practicing for hours a day, think of what you are going to accomplish in your practice that day. Practice until you achieve your goals however large or small they are. Time takes care of itself. This will turn your focus on what you’re doing and less on staring on the clock. The approach is just like how you would complete your homework. You have 5 math problems and you work on them until you finish whether it takes 5 minutes or 20.
Balanced practice is important. Practice a variety of things so it really doesn’t get boring. I like to suggest a little warm up, then some technique, work on 4-8 measures of a new song (or more!), and then play an old favorite. Total, this might take 15-20 minutes. Just getting in the habit of practicing at all is important from the beginning. Parents can help by scheduling it in the day. Before or after school, what ever fits your schedule as long as you do it!
Parents and students that have exhausted the fight over practicing may need a break. Taking some time off doesn’t mean your child will never want to play again. In fact, when your child decides they are ready to come back, they will probably feel excited and more motivated to learn. If you don’t want to stop music all together, but just need a break from the practicing, I suggest joining a music class with little to no practicing required.
Learning in a group environment is fun! At Little School of Music, the Orff Schulwerk classes teach musical skills on a variety of instruments using different types of activities. These classes are less expensive than private lessons and require little to no practicing during the week. This class may be the relief you and you child are looking for.
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