-A Parent's guide- to
Beating the Practise Blues
-A Parent's guide- to
Beating the Practise Blues
Eva, Cooper, Mitchell, Nate and Connor's parents have taken the lead and left the stress of music practise behind. They have discovered a basic truth...Your child's practise motivator is you.
Why not join the growing number of parents taking the modern approach to music practise?
Hi, I'm Heather: Congratulations for reaching out to improve the quality of your child's musical journey. I promise you will not be disappointed when you implement even a few of these fun, educational, beneficial and easy to apply activities. Including them regularly during the school week will support your child's valuable music lessons and you will never have to stress over music practise again.
Here are the four fun, easy ways that Laura, Julie, Skye, Michael, Chris and Kylie have found to get involved in their children's music practise at home.
Kids need and want to know that their personal choices are meaningful to their families. What better way to show them than to spend time supporting those choices?
At Music Matters lessons Eva shines. You can see the joy on her face. She is learning piano with the Music for Little Mozarts program. Eva practises happily at home.
Eva's Mum, Laura, takes the modern approach to music lessons and knows that music practise needs to be meaningful for the whole family, not just for Eva.
With a busy family which includes a preschooler, Laura is committed to creating a workable arrangement for music practise at home. The routine has to be sustainable for the entire school term. During the holidays, everyone has a break and comes back refreshed in the first week of the following term.
"When I go to the piano with Eva, she is keen to show me what she has learnt."
If I forget, then she forgets. Eva is only 6 years old so its really up to me to take the lead to create an atmosphere which encourages practise.
Julie has found the answer to beating the practise blues. Cooper is learning guitar and Mitchell is learning drums with Music Matters. Both boys use backing tracks at each and every lesson.
Julie helps her sons at home by setting up the sound source whether it be CD player or downloaded tracks on the iPhone.
By playing regularly with the backing tracks at lesson and at home the boys are creating consistency in rhythm, fingering and feeling. Mitchell self corrects as he drums by constantly adjusting his speed to the backing tracks. He is listening carefully to the external music source and this prevents him crashing the drums too loudly. If he does, he won't be able to hear the music.
Cooper self corrects like Mitchell does as he plays by constantly adjusting his speed to the backing tracks. He is also listening carefully to get each note correct. The music helps him to memorise the patterns and prevents him making the same mistakes over and over again in between music lessons, as so often happens when students do not self correct. No time is wasted at lesson re-learning mistakes practised at home.
Cooper and Mitchell have mini concerts regularly at home so they are always practising with a performance purpose in mind.
The boys check their lesson exercise book every week and make sure they are practising the work set by their teacher.
They like to make up their own rhythms and write them into the manuscript books.
There are no practise blues in this family!
Nate loves Cup Tapping.
Parents, Skye and Michael, choose to support Nate's music experience at home. They often join him in the first 5 minutes of music lesson to learn the tapping rhythms. The individual rhythmic challenge of putting complex hand and finger movements to music is very satisfying. In addition, when Nate plays with a group he is strengthening his team work skills, listening skills, ensemble skills and generally having a ball.
It is important for Nate to choose his own music practise times for the week ahead.
At lesson we chat together with Nate, Skye and Michael about creating a suitable practise time table for the week. We write down the days and times that Nate has chosen. It is much more likely that the practise will get done if Nate chooses his own time table than if he is told when to practise and for how long.
When Nate's practise time starts with Cup Tapping with Mum and/or Dad, he is more likely to be relaxed, happy and settled. He can more easily move on to piano practise and he does not feel isolated.
I believe that children of all ages benefit from parents' physical presence no matter what they are trying to achieve.
Learning a musical instrument is complex and demanding. Just knowing that their parents understand the skills involved makes it easier to be alone at practise time.
Being with our kids instead of driving them away to the instrument allows them to see the instrument as a valued part of the family. Spending time with the instrument therefore becomes more valuable to them.
Nate's parents understand the skills involved in learning music
Using a timer for music practise is especially helpful for boys. Connor has tried this with success. "It helps you to know how long to practise". Connor learns both piano and guitar, using successful practise methods which minimise stress at home.
"Sometimes I'm not in the mood for practise. I would rather do other things. I really like to practise and when I get started I enjoy it. Its just that it is hard to put others things down and start."
Connor has learnt that when he sets a timer, he knows that practise will stop when the timer goes off. Setting the timer is easier than starting practise, but once the timer is set, it is now time to start!
So using the timer actually has a double benefit. It signals the time to stop, but it also signals the time to start.
An added benefit is that Connor takes responsibility for how long he wants to practise a piece of music.
Connor is learning two instruments so he has to manage his practise time wisely.
He feels in control of his own practise sessions because he can adjust the timer at each practise.
Connor is learning the valuable skill of time management.
Connors' parents, Kylie and Chris, also arrange regular mini-concerts at home where Dad, Chris, joins Connor on his own guitar to play simple duets.
Connor has been practising with the backing tracks, so his timing is spot on.
Regular mini-concerts at home are the key to enabling consistent practise.
What do Eva, Cooper, Mitchell, Nate and Connor's families have in common?
They all believe that when it comes to encouraging music practise at home, modern communication methods get more results than the traditional "go and do" commands of the past.
I believe this too but I didn't always think this way.
I had a wake up experience that made me take another look at my attitude and assumptions about life and about music lessons.
About 5 years ago I managed my daughter's rural dental practice in South Australia. At the end of my tether and feeling all but exhausted, I called my HR mentor to ask. "How should I be handling this staffing problem?"
Immediately and without hesitation she replied with a question of her own, "Are you asking or telling?" Hmmm, I thought...yes, I was definitely telling.
I am the kind of person who defaults to "telling" when it comes to common sense issues. "Why can't the other person just see that this is the answer to that issue? Surely, the solution is clear?" Not always.
When it comes to music practise we, as parents, may default to assuming many things about our children and in doing so also default into a telling mode.
"Surely they know that if they don't practise they will never improve?"
Here are a few assumptions I had when my four young children were learning music.
How wrong I was! I never thought to actually ask my children for their thoughts on their own music practise...I was too busy telling.
As a music teacher I try to apply the same advice I was given when I was managing...ask, don't tell. This is the modern approach to leadership.
Does your child need help? Is she a self-starter? Is she enjoying the music she is learning?
What is important to her to do after school? Does she love to run and play or is she a book worm? You might like to involve the rest of family in your child's music practise by asking them...what do they think of the music? Would they like to join in?
Here are the 4 simple music practise tools that will create performance-ready musicians in your home.
When we adjust our own way of thinking about traditional music practise methods, we open new options for success and in doing so, create relief.
Here are four simple tools you can start using today to relieve the stress of music practise in your home.
A small warning...Once you get start using these tools to get involved in your child's music practise, you may want to learn music as well!
I use some of these tools in each music lesson and encourage families to use them at home.
Tool #1: Ask your child if they would like to set a timer.
Young children have a busy life to live.
Fitting in music practise sessions before or after school may be a challenge. When they set their own timer, they choose how long they will practise and it may be helpful to know when it will end.
After all practising is hard work and when relief is in sight we are more likely to put in an extra effort.
Tool #2: Use Cup Tapping as a short warm up before music practise.
If you have never experience Cup Tapping, contact me and I will be more than happy to help you get started. If you are already a music teacher I can help you learn how to include Cup Tapping using an easy, time saving method.
Cup Tapping has enormous physical, social and emotional benefits. Music lessons and practise at home will never be the same again.
When you sit down with your child and get involved in Cup Tapping at their level they feel included.
I feel good when Cup Tapping with kids as it is a pleasant, challenging activity and puts everyone in a good mood.
There is always plenty of laughter when the cups go flying.
Fun, relaxing and beneficial...what better way to start music practise?
You may be able to involve the whole family, and aim to create a Cup Tapping circle.
You might like to try putting on some of your favourite songs and tap the cups in time, passing them around to one another.
Cup Tapping encourages focus, memory, co-ordination and team work.
Tool #3: Play the backing tracks for your child or set them up so they can play them.
Who doesn't love to play or sing along with an external source of music?
When your child plays along with the CD they are able to relax and feel the music as it moves along.
Yes, they still have to concentrate on the fingering, the notation and the rhythm, but the whole process is leading to a meaningful outcome.
They can hear what is expected of them and they don't have to wait to be perfect to play with others. Every practise session is bringing them closer to having exact timing. Children self-correct when they hear that they are out of time or out of tune with the music.
They want to play the songs again and again to get them just right.
Backing tracks also give them confidence to improvise and create tunes of their own.
Tool #4: Create a mini-concert at home once a month.
Invite a family member or friend over for a mini-concert. Put the date in your diary. Share the date with your child and together plan what pieces they would like to play and prepare for in advance of the next mini-concert.
Let your music teacher know what you are planning and she or he will support you by including the pieces in the lessons in between concerts. Take a photo of your child performing at home and put a copy on your fridge.
Let her see that she is the star of the show. Take a video of her playing and set up your own YouTube channel where you can create an album of her pieces. She will love to look back in years to come at her early efforts at piano playing.
I'd love to hear how these four tools are working for you.
Why not drop me a line, send me a YouTube video of your child practising or email me some practise hints of you own so we can share them with others? I am looking forward to hearing from you.
These four simple tools will help your child to create
performance-ready pieces and be happy in the process!