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  • Writer's pictureniamh owens

6 STEPS TO MOTIVATE YOUR CHILD TO PRACTISE. 🎵 🎶 🎵 🎶 🎹 🎷 🎺 🎸 🎻 🎹 🎵 🎶 🎵 🎶

1. Do NOT wait for inspiration to occur. This is the biggest trap you can fall for. I don’t know any musician who always feels inspired to practise. It takes dedication and discipline to master any craft. If you are waiting for inspiration to occur, you might be waiting a very long time. 🕰 2. Plan Carve out a dedicated time to practise, as well as play the instrument for fun (set a timer). ⏰ Discuss their schedule with them, and invite them to think about when would be the best time to practice. This gives them autonomy and provides the opportunity for self-discipline. Agree upon a weekly fixed schedule and put this up on a board, or on the fridge where its clear for them to see. Choose days where there is more time available. (Do not choose a day when they already have swimming and dance class). Have a box available for them to tick. ✅ Ticking a box motivates you! It provides you with both a physical act and visual reference which verifies YOU did this, this gives you a sense of pride, and it feels good. 😊 3. How often should they practise? Ok I always get asked this question. It’s a difficult one to answer, because it depends on the age of your child, how many other extra curricular activities they already have, their level/grade, and most importantly how much they currently practice. If the answer is….not at all. Well then you start with once a week and you build it from there. Once a week is an improvement from not at all. Its an achievable expectation and its motivating. Telling someone who doesn’t practise at all that they suddenly have to practise everyday is overwhelming and frankly has the opposite affect to motivating them. 😔 In an ideal world its short but regular in frequency. I.e. everyday day for 10 minutes; beginners, everyday for 30 minutes grade 5/6. (at-least 3 times a week) 4. Sleep on it. We’ve probably all been told at some point ‘just sleep on it’. Well this phrase has the stats to back it up. Sleeping on it actually helps our brains to reconcile and sort through the information taken in during the day. 😴 If your child is ‘hitting a wall’ with practise, reassure them it will be better tomorrow, after they sleep. Studies have shown that practising a piece and sleeping on it, can improve your memory and playing by approximately 20 percent. This is why regular practise is so important. Think of it like compounding interest, imagine making investments with 20 percent returns each day! 💰 💰 💰 Quality sleep is what we are talking about though, this is what will help you to make sense of a problem. I have been so shocked in the last few years with the amount of students telling me they are tired because they are having sleepless/restless nights, overwhelmed with the demands of school and extra curricular activities. I see this with the 11+ children in particular. Keep this in mind. Sleep deprivation affects: mood, cognitive functioning, memory recall, consolidation and general health and immune system. Set them up for success with balance and appropriate expectations. ⚖️ This leads me to the next point. 5. Set appropriate expectations Learning an instrument is difficult. As a music lover it can be so hard to listen to your own mistakes. We want to create beautiful pieces; how we have heard them, or imagine them in our heads. 💭Unfortunately this is not how practise works, a piece usually has lots of stops and starts, bumps and falls. Don’t worry if this is the case-which it will be. Guide them in working on small sections- ‘lets work on the first verse/ the first 4 bars’. This will be more achievable and will ensure they don’t become disheartened as a result of rushing through a piece multiple times, only to end up with the same results. Also maintain hope and faith yourself. This honestly has a huge impact. Often my students don’t even realise what they can achieve, and they don’t believe they will ever be able to play a particular piece (only to be able to play it a few weeks later). I know what their potential is and I maintain that hope for them even when they don’t have it themselves. I also make sure to reflect on their progress every few weeks to give them further perspective and encouragement. 6. Host a performance once a week Ask them about what is new, and if they can teach you a few notes of what they have learnt? This shows them you care, and you are interested in what they are learning. It is also a much better alternative to ‘have you done your practise yet?’ (which can often follow with an argument). This also gives you an opportunity to monitor their practise in a more motivating way. Make sure to also check the teachers notes here, this will aid their progress and keep them on track. Note: Not all tasks need to be completed in one day, and don’t chastise them for showing you something outside of the teachers notes; listen and encourage them, then ask them if they can show you something from the teachers notes. Set them a goal of hosting a performance online when the piece is almost complete (the home stretch), encourage them to record themselves first on the phone or iPad. This can be an excellent learning tool for them and also a great rehearsal for the actual performance. If they are happy to then share these recordings or perform online for family members; this can be extremely motivating. Children love to make their family members proud! If these 6 steps are in place, your child will discover inspiration does occur. Your job is to set up the conditions. If there is a plan which works, where regular practise can occur, your child is having great sleep and a balanced lifestyle with appropriate expectations, and goals such as performances are in place, you will find they begin to play past the practise timer. The more they practise, the more they will enjoy the practise, because they will improve and it will sound better, more like how they imagined it.

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