Many children are very enthusiastic about starting to learn an instrument, but unfortunately without regular practice they will quickly lose interest.
Even professional musicians find it difficult to convince their children of the importance of practice. Steven Isserlis, the distinguished cellist, has the following to say:
“It’s a very tricky balance between making your child hate music because of the pressure, or leaving them in a state later when they resent you for not having made them stick at it,” Isserlis says. “The balance varies from child to child. I think the parents who say ‘Only practise when you want to, dear’ are doing their child a disservice. It’s like homework. You can’t just suddenly wake up and learn how to play an instrument.”
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So what should parents do?
Here are some tips on motivating young children to practise:
- Provide a suitable piano for daily practice
- Sit with your child as often as possible as he or she practises
- Try to incorporate practice into the daily routine at a time when your child is not tired
- Make a chart of the days of the week: tick or place stickers for every practice session completed
- Your child can use a digital clock to write down the start/finish time every day
- Give a reward for a certain number of successive days’ practice
- Record your child’s performance of a favourite piece on phone/ipad and send to grandparents etc
- Have fun using apps for aural training and sight reading