There they are, three words that strike terror into parents’ (and teachers’) souls. Planning the school schedule with all of its many fun and demanding activities is never easy, and actually implementing them is the next hurdle. Personally, I just continue to breathe and remind myself that many things can be maneuvered and made more manageable if necessary.
So once you schedule your child’s music lesson, how do you fit in the time for them to practice? If kids never, ever are going to practice, save your money. Use the cash to take them to see the high school productions and concerts and an occasional NYC trip. Hating music lessons is worse than never taking them.
How much practice is enough? Well that depends on your expectations. If you are looking to create a concert pianist, target about three hours per day. But if you are looking to develop a child’s talent and love for their instrument, start with 15 minutes a day, and here is the key: EVERY DAY. And, don’t skip the day after the lesson because that is when they will remember what they were just taught. As a matter of fact, if you can get them to play the day of the lesson, that is even better. Have them start by practicing the pieces they were assigned, and there may be screaming as starting a new piece is rarely fun – think of it like getting into a new book. When those pieces are practiced, ask them to review their old songs. Say things like, “Hey, what’s your favorite piece?” or “I love the way you play _______. Would you play that for me?” My mom told me that my dad loved the song “Moon River”, so I played it practically every day after I finished my lesson material. I don’t actually know if he really did love it, but the suggestion worked. It is in a book my students sometimes use and I always say, “My dad loved this song.” So whatever – it made me happy.
And if your child has a bad practice week, tell the teacher. Just be honest. It is better to just review and fit in practicing the next week. Everyone will be much more relaxed when the cat is out of the bag. No one has a great practice week every week. Life is busy and there are tons of fun things to do. Remember, you scheduled all these activities for your kids because you love them and want them to learn how to do cool stuff. Enjoy the process.
You know… Music Lasts a Lifetime!