Why Students Quit Their Music Practice and How to Keep Them Engaged
Music is an important part of early development, and many studies have offered compelling evidence supporting the theory that music enhances cognitive function. Exposure to music has been shown to improve memory, aid in communication skills, and improve social functioning. With all the benefits of music, it’s no wonder that we want our youth to experience the sensation of musical performance and practice.
But aside from all the benefits, there are often periods where students lose interest and begin to falter in their engagement and enthusiasm for this important development tool. It’s important to note that these plateaus are normal for musicians of all ages and skill levels, and may happen more than once in their musical career/journey. Yet to counteract this lull in musical ambition, there are many things teachers and parents can do to keep students engaged.
Practice in the Right Environment
Oftentimes a loss of interest is not directly related to the pursuit of music itself. Sometimes it can be attributed to the teacher, instrument, environment, or a number of other (even unrelated) circumstances. One big influencer in the success of a music practice is location. For instance, if a student’s practice takes place in a location with many distractions (whether it’s ambient noise or frequent interruptions) they may find themselves frustrated with their inability to focus. Additionally, students who must practice in tight or disagreeable spaces such as basements or attics may find that they don’t look forward to practice time and lose interest in music as an ancillary effect of their environment. Make practicing music an enjoyable and focused experience by keeping the area clean, pleasant, and free from distractions, or by finding a studio where your child feels comfortable.
The relationship between student and teacher is vital in maintaining motivation. If a student is not comfortable with a teacher or feels that they are not improving within the current curriculum, they could lose interest. Check in frequently with students about their experience with their teacher and shift gears quickly if it does not seem to be the best fit. But more often than not, you’ll find that openly communicating with the teacher about your child’s frustrations can swiftly alleviate the problem and maintain your child’s passion.
A student who is overscheduled with academic and extracurricular activities is on a fast track towards burnout. Try limiting the number of activities your child participates in to the ones they enjoy most. It may be hard to cut out some of those other fun pastimes, but honing in on just one or two extracurriculars at a time could do wonders for your child’s progress!
Because it is not directly tied to one of the more common academics, music often gets pushed aside for areas of learning that are seen as more critical, such as math and language arts. However, music, like the standard academics, holds an infinite amount of personal and educational benefits. From heightened confidence and pain management to improved cognitive reasoning and language development, adults should consider these types of values when encouraging young students to stay focused on music.
Finding the Right Focus
Learning how to play an instrument can be a fun experience with many small accomplishments, but as with any accomplishment, there are a fair share of challenges as well. To ensure that the learning process stays fun, teachers should provide small, attainable goals with measureable results for their students. Teachers might also consider also discussing the goal of each task before the child begins, so it is clear what they are working toward and why it will help them.
There are many reasons a student may lose interest in music. Oftentimes it’s as simple as neglecting to practice over a long summer vacation and forgetting their love for music in lieu of new and interesting subjects, sports, or hobbies. While it’s entirely normal for students to plateau in their musical excitement or progress, it’s helpful for adults to be aware of the factors that may be contributing to this change.