8 Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

boy with guitarIf you find you’re having trouble getting your child to practice music, know that you’re not alone. It’s a common issue which is totally surmountable, and worth the effort. One big reason practicing a musical instrument is so worth it, as you may know, is that becoming proficient on piano, guitar, drum set, violin or any other musical instrument requires developing life skills like perseverance, consistency, and ability to overcome set-backs. Not to mention, playing music, even at the most basic level is a huge stress reliever and brings joy to the performer and to listeners!

So, what can you do if your child just won’t practice music? Well, for long term effectiveness and for your child’s sustained happiness, you’ll mostly want to tap into their internal motivation as opposed to providing external motivation such as bribes.

Here are some possible strategies:

1) Make sure the musical instrument your daughter is playing is one that she has chosen for herself. Your daughter has to like the sound and depending on her temperament and physique, the instrument has to be attainable for her to play. For example, someone with shorter arms might not be a great candidate for playing upright bass. Also, if she finds that the tone of a violin is irritating, that’s not the right musical instrument for her!

My daughter actually started on piano at age 6 but would not practice piano no matter what I tried. So, we switched to recorder and that did the trick. By changing to a one-line-of-music instrument, she felt success quicker and was more apt to practice. She’s the type of  kid where a little bit of instant success motivates her to learn more. Now she’s 11 and loves to play the viola (her choice) sing, and dance (also her choices). No problem getting her to practice her music. She does it on her own.

By the way, the early training on recorder and piano that she had made it easy for her to pick up viola later. Musical instrument learning transfers to other musical instruments!

Not sure which musical instrument to switch to? Try music lessons on a few different ones at your local music school.

2) Inspire your son by going to professional concerts where he can hear and see his chosen musical instrument played beautifully.

3) As children get to be around 10 years old, sometimes younger, they start to develop preferences for musical style, largely influenced by radio, tv, and whatever they’re most exposed to at home. They will also typically gravitate to whatever their friends are listening to, especially for boys at around age 13 and girls around age 11.
So, one way to motivate young teens and preteens to practice is to encourage them to play at least one familiar song as a part of their week’s routine. Ask your child’s music teacher for an arrangement of a favorite song that’s at your son or daughter’s level.

4) If she’s the type that loves to show off, make sure there’s a recital or another performance planned in the not too distant future.

5) If he goes out of his way for good grades in school, then perhaps have him go for a music performance exam. There are many reputable brands of music performance exams, several have the term “Royal Conservatory” in the title. Ask your music school about these exams. (They look great on college applications, too.) girl at piano

6) Is your daughter a little self conscious or shy? Then maybe she’s embarrassed a bit to practice music at home. Ask your music school if they have practice time available in their private studios.

7) Try a different teacher. The very best music teachers leave their egos out of it (therefore, no hurt feelings) and know that different personalities and learning styles adapt to different teacher/student relationships. Ask your music studio to try a different teacher with your son and see if that does the trick.

8) Never give up on a child. For example, we had a young piano student who obviously had talent, but from age 6-10 would barely practice piano no matter what our music teachers and the child’s parents did. Thing is, he loved piano and especially loved to improvise, which of course we all encouraged. He kept coming back to piano lessons. By preteen age, something clicked and he started practicing like crazy. This continued through high school. He’s now majoring in music in college, playing piano and composing away!

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Please let us know how it goes and feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

Here’s to your child’s happiness and success!

About Melody Stevens
Melody Stevens is the owner of 2 arts education businesses, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. She is the CEO of The Academy of Music and Dance in Central New Jersey and the Founder/CEO of Mozarts and Einsteins Preschool in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn.

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