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Learning to practice is different than playing or singing.

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Know the difference between practicing and playing or singing.

When we practice, we are facing head-on our weaknesses, the parts that are hard, and the confusion that accompanies new material. Practice always applies to material that is new, different, and challenging. Playing is what we do when we already know how, when we already have practiced well, and we feel successful with our music. Choosing to practice is more vexing than choosing to play. During practice, music students often trick themselves into thinking they have practiced when really they spent much of their time playing the music they have already mastered.

  • Parents can help their children practice by knowing the assignments and organizing their child ‘practice time around the assignments.

  • Help your child practice only the assignments during regularly practice times.

  • Nurture their desire to be a musician by inviting them to play or sing the music they’ve mastered outside of practice time.

  • Encourage their free time to include spontaneous playing or singing.

The lack of desire to practice is not an indicator of the desire to be a musician.

Practicing music is always harder than playing music. Practicing to be a musician is harder than being a musician. When a child practices music, they are facing and trying to overcome their weaknesses. Even adults don’t like to do things they find hard or tedious. Reading music and managing the technique of an instrument or your voice is very complicated an so it would follow that a child might resist that process. However, this does not mean they don’t want to play piano. It simply means children often lack the discipline to know how to face and overcome the challenge in the new music. Children need inspirational instructors who show them how to overcome the challenges. Children need their parents to teach them how to lean into challenges without giving up.

The desire to play music you’ve already mastered IS an indicator of the desire to be a musician.

Here is the true indicator of musical desire. If your child spontaneously plays or sings music from their lessons they have already mastered, if during practice time your child plays the parts of their music they’ve already learned instead of the newer harder parts, if your child keeps playing their old recital piece, if they can be found trying to play Star Wars, The Legend of Zelda, or Frozen’s Let it Go, by ear then you know they enjoy playing or singing music. Helping them continue to practice even when they are frustrated or confused will help them be the musician they imagined.

Learning to practice is the definitive skill and it takes time.

Learning to practice is a skill in itself. The technique and music are new skills, and the process of practicing is a new skill. Children who excel in musicianship are those who learn how to practice. Learning to practice is the definitive marker of becoming a musician and it is a process that requires a parent’s help. Each day of practice confirms important cognitive and emotional information to your child. Each week of lessons with a qualified instructor adds new processes on to the old ones. The months formulate patterns of successes to embrace and obstacles to avoid. The years mark development and inspire continued practice.

Will my Child Practice on Their Own?

Becoming more skilled at practicing is feeling more successful and more competent. When this happens your child simply gets better at learning. That feeling of success and competence translates to ownership, and they will one day practice “on their own”.

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