Getting children to practise music can be challenging. Music practice requires routine and discipline and needs to be driven by parents. The study of music is a family commitment, in much the same way as rowing, swimming, or water polo. Music practice, particularly for younger children, is led by parents.
It is a commitment worthy of investment. The benefits of music are profound. The study of music is known to improve literacy and math skills, enhance concentration and coordination, and promote problem-solving skills. At Trinity, we believe every boy should be provided with the opportunity to play an instrument and learn music.
Here are seven tips to help your child practise music:
1. Make it fun
Music should never be a chore. During practice, allocate time for your child to play music they enjoy, as well as any set practice requirements. Show them the joy of music by immersing it in your lives – play music at home, make music together, go to concerts. All of these strategies will help your child develop a thirst for music and encourage more active music making. You could even talk to your child’s music teacher about recommending some fun games or activities to include in practice sessions.
2. Timing is everything
Consider the best time of day for music practice for your family. Often, children are more alert and eager to practise first thing in the morning. In fact, music practice is a great way to start the day as it prepares the mind and body for learning. For younger children, you’ll need to ensure music practice occurs at a time when you can be available to step in to help, or offer words of encouragement if required. So, when you’re getting ready for work or preparing dinner might not be the best time. The important thing is to ensure that children are fed and ready to practise, devoid of distraction. Once you’ve established the best time of day, set that same time for each day your child will practise. Music requires routine and discipline.
3. Avoid setting time limits
Setting time limits on practice sessions puts the focus on the amount of time spent practising, rather than on what has been achieved. If your child is on a roll, don’t make them stop. Encourage them to persist while the going is good. In the same regard, it’s OK to cut a practice session short if it’s not working. It is much better to have effective practice than sessions that don’t achieve anything.
4. Goal setting
Children respond very well to goal setting. Establishing simple and achievable goals is a great way of building confidence and encouraging more discipline for learning. Goals can be as simple as aiming for a specific number of practice sessions per week, or working toward accomplishing more complex pieces. When approaching music challenges, set small tasks and work your way up. It is better to master single concepts or small passages of music rather than tick a lot of boxes in one go. Offer encouragement.
Children yearn for approval. Make sure your child knows that you are listening by offering words of encouragement that focus on his progression. He will be delighted to demonstrate his musical prowess and any new skills.
5. Reward achievements not practice
It is important that your child doesn’t see music practice as an obligation. Rather, it’s a vital component toward achieving small goals that will lead to musicianship mastery. In this vein, avoid rewarding practice sessions with promises of other fun activities and focus on rewarding achievements instead.
6. It shouldn’t sound perfect
Practice should not sound perfect. Practising music is all about mastering new pieces and concepts. Once practice sessions start to sound perfect, you’ll know it’s time to move on to the next challenge.
Recognising the strong link between music and academic performance, Trinity offers a comprehensive Music programme to students from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12. With Music being an essential element of Trinity’s curriculum, most boys at some stage, will learn a musical instrument and engage in group musical activity; such as choir, orchestra, band or ensemble, or a musical stage production.
Trinity’s Music Department has one of the most dynamic and impressive performance programmes in Australia and, in terms of student participation, is one of the most comprehensive. Commitment of students and staff to achieving excellence in performance, has earned Trinity an impressive reputation in music. We take the creative and performing arts seriously.
To find out why we are one of Sydney’s leading schools for boys and to learn more about the Trinity difference and our exceptional Music programme, download our Music ebook.