It’s one thing to fall in love with music, yet another to become an expert with an instrument.
Some people say you need to log at least 10,000 hours to become a master musician. That’s a lot of time! Getting kids excited about learning something new might be easier than maintaining their commitment to a practice schedule of 10,000 hours.
Even when they love their lessons, they can hit a plateau in their home practice. Fortunately, there are a few reliable ways to motivate young musicians to practice at home. Start following our 5 tips below and watch how your child’s patience and good musical habits begin to blossom.
1. Create Concrete Goals
When practice time is the only goal, lessons can get monotonous. Putting in the required time becomes the only outcome, instead of making meaningful progress.
Rather than saying “Practice for 45 minutes,” try setting more tangible short-term goals. For instance, encourage your little musician to master the most challenging 12 measures of their song error-free. Or ask them to play an entire song without using the sheet music. This injects a bit more excitement into daily lessons and helps your child recognize regular progress.
2. Offer a Reward System
Nailing a new song is a reward of its own, but sometimes an extra treat helps boost motivation.
Some parents find it helpful to offer beans or stickers after each practice. When they earn enough reward tokens, kids can cash them in for a small prize. A trip to their favorite restaurant, a small gift card, or a sleepover might be just carrot they need to keep pushing forward. While it’s important for your young musician to learn self-motivation, a small reward here and there can complement their natural interest in music quite nicely.
3. Leave Room for Creativity
Music practice that allows room for play is always more fun.
Give your burgeoning musician some time at the end of practice to explore their creativity. Encourage them to write their own music, learn to play a pop song, or improvise. Give them a mood, like “nervous,” and ask them to create a soundtrack to express it. This switches up what could otherwise be a humdrum routine, while still increasing their familiarity with their instrument. It’s a win-win!
4. Take Them to a Live Performance
At the onset of learning the piano or violin, it can be difficult to imagine becoming an expert. Your child might even ask, “What’s the point?”
Taking them to see a professional at work can inspire them to keep learning, as it provides an aspirational goal. Whether you make a trip to a major symphony performance or check out a concert at your local theater, live performances are a powerful tool. Seeing someone with mastery and enthusiasm on stage can help new players envision where their lessons will lead.
5. Rethink the Schedule
Sometimes the reason a music student has trouble staying on track is as simple as the time of day they’re practicing.
If your little Mozart has a hard time focusing for 30 minutes after school, shift practice time to the morning hours. Likewise, some kids just can’t focus before noon. Trying to force an 8:00 a.m. practice to work may be futile. Ample practice time is more important than the actual time of practice, so remember to be flexible.
Creating a hardworking, dedicated mindset for young musicians is an invaluable tool for their long-term success. When they can maintain the motivation to practice at home alone, the sky’s the limit. What tools do you use to keep your child excited about at-home practice?
At California Music Studios, we offer high-quality music lessons to inspire any young musician to want to practice. Get your student matched with their ideal teacher today!