The school year is over, the sun is shining and Christmas is almost here. Each year, in the music department, parents often ask us “How can I encourage my child to practice over the holidays?”
It is a very good question and it is important that you do encourage practice. We see first-hand that notpracticing (or very rarely practicing) for two months can take a student all of Term 1 to recover from.
Here are 7 ways to encourage your child to practice over the summer holidays:
Keep the instrument visible. Out of sight, out of mind. If your child’s instrument is easy to access and out of its case they are more likely to start their own practice session by themselves, without being prompted.
Encourage small but regular sessions. The best results come when music practice becomes part of your daily routine. 15 minutes of concentrated practice each and every day has a much better pay off than a 1.5 hour session once a week.
Make it fun. Especially in the early years, games are a great way to sneak in some practise. Try writing out a list of emotions (happy, sad, excited) on a piece of paper. Cut them up and place them in a hat. Ask your child to pull a piece of paper out of the hat and play a tune that reflects what they think that emotion sounds like. For older students we suggest selecting a song that you want to learn and watching how others perform that song on You Tube.
Make it varied. Similar to sports practice, music practice must be varied. Encourage a range of music related activity that may include listening to a range of music genres (classical, jazz, blues, rock, folk, and pop), composing a tune, reading music or practising scales.
Invite friends over for a jam session. Invite your child’s friends over and encourage them to put on a mini concert in the living room for siblings, parents and neighbours. Busking with some friends can also be fun…and profitable!
Celebrate successes. When your child achieves something new, whether it’s 'Twinkle Twinkle' or a Beethoven Sonata, show genuine pride and excitement. Accomplishments, no matter how small, are always something to be celebrated.
Do not call it practice. Try not to let the discipline of music get in the way of the joy of music-making. Rather than calling it music practice you may want to try calling it music time.
Jayne Turner is the Director of Music at Toorak College