How to Practice an Instrument (Plus FREE Weekly Practice Chart!)
From guitars to violins to pianos to trumpets...Sometimes deciding WHICH instrument your child wants to play seems like a difficult decision to make. Well, I hate to break it to you, but the hardest part about any child learning an instrument is practicing it consistently!
I know many of you likely grew up practicing the piano and hating it so much you quit. Some of us had parents who wouldn’t let us quit so we had to put up with the daily punishment of sitting at a piano bench and playing our ‘Daily Dozen’ or else our beloved TV show (mine was Full House!) would be snatched right from under me.
Well, today I think some things may have changed in how we enforce our children to practice but one thing hasn’t and that is the fact that becoming good at ANY skill takes time, effort and discipline.
However, it is possible to still make learning enjoyable throughout the practicing process. I’m suggesting that with a few tips and some guidance of HOW to practice an instrument, your child (and you!) can practice smarter and reap the benefits of a productive practice week without the boredom.
The truth is, everyone develops different skills at different times. While practicing can be frustrating sometimes, trusting the process of putting time into your skill day after day has proven to be the key to success - your child’s success, not someone else’s. There are bound to be moments where you and your child will see progression even if it doesn’t happen right away.
3 Tips for Practicing an Instrument
Here are a few favourite tips I give my own children and my students when practicing an instrument:
- Some practice is better than none. 10 minutes in the morning before school is better than none for two days in a row. If time or focus becomes a problem one week, try splitting up your practice sessions into two different times of the day. Sometimes just knowing a long practice session is on the horizon can dampen any child’s attitude. Splitting it into two sessions can keep a child focused and energized.
- Have a goal at the beginning of your practice time. Take one or two minutes to decide what you and your child want to accomplish that day. Sometimes, that will mean working on a hard section of a song plus one or two other items only. The rest you can leave for later in the day or hone in on the next day.
- Please, please, please, don’t have your child play the pieces through 3 times and then call it quits! This type of practicing is so common among younger students and usually doesn’t accomplish much. Before a child begins a piece of music, have them (or you the parent) decide where the trouble spots are. Focus on these trouble spots FIRST and make sure your child can get through them with some ease. Then try adding more music before and after it. Then, to close out the practice session on that particular piece, they can play it through ‘top and tail’ as we like to call it.
Practicing SMARTER, not harder.
Just think; if we implemented even these three practicing tips, your child would likely accomplish more in their practice week than 3 weeks of mindless, monotonous practice. Instead, they would have practiced SMARTER, not longer. Also, I have a feeling practicing this way will indeed be more fun than sluggishly playing through a piece over and over again.
The goal of having our children embrace musical instruments is to enjoy learning and love music. This takes time, effort, energy, and a whole lot of patience for both student, teacher and parent. The more we can encourage, smile and be a listening ear throughout our children’s journey, the more joy and gratefulness they will experience down the road when they realize an incredible and beautiful life skill has been developed.
Free Printable Practice Chart (with tips!)
I've created a free printable Weekly Practice Chart, including the above tips and more, so you can encourage your child to practice SMARTER!