Encouraging Young Musicians To Play Can Be Tricky
If you have a child who is interested in learning an instrument, you may be wondering how you can encourage your child, while not being overbearing and becoming detrimental to his learning. Encouraging young musicians to play can be a tricky balance of what and what not to do, so here are a few tips to help you navigate.
1. Make Practice Time His Practice Time
If practice time is forced, it can start to seem like a chore. This is especially the case if you try to schedule your child’s practice time or dictate how long he practices. Rather than making practice time about you and your schedule, make sure it conforms to his schedule, too. It needs to be something that he chooses, plans for, and looks forward to.
The best way to get a child in the habit of practice is through positive reinforcement. Determine an appropriate reward to show how important it is that he has planned for and invested his time in practicing his instrument.
2. Remember That It’s His Instrument
Did you grow up wishing you had played the violin? The cello? The trombone? None of that matters when it comes to your child’s decision to play. If he feels drawn towards a specific instrument, let him follow and explore that passion.
A child who tries several different instruments — all of his own choosing — is searching for just the right one. The passion for music is present, so encourage it!
3. Let Your Child Develop His Own Musical Tastes
It might be surprising to find your child ignoring the books of Beethoven’s violin sonatas and playing bluegrass instead, but don’t corner him into one kind of music. School orchestras and bands will make him learn certain pieces, so be assured that he will receive exposure to all of the standards. If your child need lessons outside of school in order to work towards a stylistic goal, see if you can find a tutor that focuses on the type of playing that he prefers.
4. Say No To Impromptu Family Performances
It is never a good idea to put your child on the spot and ask him to play. This is not only potentially embarrassing, but also can be discouraging for the learning musician. Many musically-talented children are also perfectionists, and surprising him with a request to perform can be an anxiety-inducing experience — especially if he doesn’t have anything prepared.
If your child wants to play for the family, he will likely do so without your prompting. Before a special family visit or family get-together, ask your child if there is anything new he wants to share with you or the family, and don’t push him if he says no.
5. Help Him Explore Music Outside Of School And Lessons
A young musician is constantly growing and learning, and sometimes a school environment can feel limiting. There are lots of groups outside of schools that specialize in particular kinds of music, and the students who participate are generally passionate about learning, and not just present for a grade or graduation requirement.
Find out if there are any groups in your area that meet your child’s goals, and see if he wants to get involved.