How to Motivate Your Child to Practise Guitar
Playing an instrument is very rewarding for both the child and the parent. To see the progress that they make over their guitar play journey and over a lifetime.
One of the essential elements to make them improve their guitar playing is practicing at home.
For children, it is not normal for them to want to practise.
And for the ones that do, they will be more motivated at certain times compared to others when it comes to practicing the guitar. There will always be challenges and difficulties when learning new things on any instrument.
How to overcome these challenges with your child when it comes to learning guitar?
The key is overcoming those challenges with learning the guitar for a child is through determination and practice. This really helps the child build confidence.
Tragically, some parents threaten their children that they will cancel their child’s guitar lessons if the student does not practice. While striking fear to the hearts of a child might get them to act, it is not the healthiest way to promote a new habit like consistent focused improvement on an instrument.
It is also difficult to explain to a child all of the benefits they will receive from regular practice.
When they work hard, they can get a result from it. Playing the guitar gives them a very clear example to reference from when it comes to using this mindset in any aspect of life.
Here is a nice list of MASSIVE benefits that children receive from consistent quality practice on their guitar:
-Improved social skills, math skills, higher test scores including the SATs
-A means of self expression and emotional management
-A sense of accomplishment through regular improvement
-Increased brain elasticity through creative application on the guitar
-Greater self-esteem and sense of accomplishment
-Improved coordination and motor skills
-Learn the ability to set and achieve goals (a massive life skill in it’s own right)
All of these benefits have been studied and verified time and time again by modern science, but how to explain that to your 9 year old?
Explaining it to your 9 year old
Here’s the thing, a child who signs up for guitar lessons can not possibly improve by sitting with a guitar teacher for a half hour a week alone. It takes a team effort on the part of the teacher, the student, and the parents, in order to set the student up for success. The child and parent can not go into guitar lessons with the attitude of “trying it out” because learning a musical instrument takes dedication over a consistent length of time. Does that mean 12 years? No of course not, but it does mean more then 12 days or even 12 weeks or 12 months.
During those more difficult times when it comes to practising guitar. Let’s see what we can do to help motivate your child to practice the guitar.
Do they love their guitar lessons with their teacher?
It really helps when your child enjoys their guitar lessons with their guitar teacher. They should be in a relaxing and fun, enjoyable atmosphere. There may be times when they get disheartened if they are finding something difficult. But the teacher should be able to help encourage them and motivate them to help them overcome these challenges.
Your teachers’ role is to ensure they do this by providing the right materials for them to use in the lesson and also to practice with at home.
Here are some steps that the guitar teacher can make to ensure healthy practice habits for the student.
- Have the student practice in front of the teacher. Yes, that’s right. It is for the benefit of the student that they not always receive new content but they actually learn HOW to practice. If a child does not know how to learn, and retain information, it makes no different what they learn.
- Create practice schedules for the student to follow and explain to both the student AND the parent. The parents must know what they child should be working on and for how long. For children 13 and under, 15 minutes a day, 5-6 times a week will suffice. The guitar teacher should spend some time each lesson breaking down WHAT to practice.
- Constant communication with the parents to see if the student has been in fact practicing at home and if the parents have been helping the student practice.
Try a 30 Days practice challenge
Having practicing guitar as a competition can help motivate your child to get over the hurdle of practising if they are having a lack of enthusiasm for practising. 30 days is a good timeline to get a routine. And they should practise for a certain amount of time per day depend on what their teacher has recommended.
Set the reward as something that the child wants and will look forward to. We suggest having a family activity. Or something small like chocolates to motivate them. Ensure they are praised for the extra effort and hard work they have put into practice.
Get practising guitar as part of a daily routine
Get your child into the mindset that practising isn’t optional. And that it is something they must do to do well and get praise for how well they are doing on the guitar. It is always much better to practise a little every day than for a long period of time at the end of the day just before their guitar lesson.
Doing daily guitarpractice really helps the information to set in and for them to progress the fastest way. And by doing it daily, it means they can see that progress quickly.
Try to make it as normal as brushing their teeth. So they expect to do it rather than thinking of it as an extra thing they have to do.
Keep a record of their progress by videoing it
Use your phone or tablet or anything else to video the practice that your child is doing once a month. This way you keep a record of the progress and improvement they have made over time. As we mentioned before. Playing the guitar, there will always be new challenges, which is great because it’s a sign that they are learning new things and progressing. So having a record of how they have overcome previous challenges. And how much improvement they have made will help them remember how important practice is and how much the effort they have put in is worthwhile.
Have an understanding of what they need to do at home
There is a difference between practising and playing the guitar. For young children, it’s important for the parent to know the difference and know roughly what they should be working on at home. Otherwise, it is easy for the child to play a little while and say that they’ve done their practice when actually what they have done is not what the teacher has asked and so it will not help them improve as much as proper practice will help them.
Having great communication between yourself and the teacher will ensure that you have an understanding of practise means, and so it gets you involved in the progress, the child knows that you have a level of expectation. This encourages them to practise the right things, which in turn improves their playing! It’s a cycle that helps to motivate them long term to play and practise.
Give them extra opportunities to perform in front of friends and families
Whenever there are friends and families visiting, coming round for a cup of tea or anything else. Get your child to do a mini performance for them. Don’t put too much pressure on them, just say something encouraging like “Your aunt/uncle would love to see what you have been practising.”. They can just do some practise exercises, or play a piece. The aim is to get them comfortable with playing in front of others. And if you give them a few days notice, they may be encouraged to do extra practice beforehand as well.
Hopefully, some of these tips will help you encourage your child to do more guitar practice to help them progress and improve their guitar playing. If you are a parent interested in finding a guitar teacher or a new guitar teacher for your child and based in East London.
You should also help your child by remembering that Music lessons are LIFE lessons. They require dedication and consistent progress. The parent should sit down with their child and monitor their practicing. Help them through their frustration by explaining how this is going to make their lives better because it will.
Managing Practise Expectations for your child for their guitar progress
Help the student by giving them manageable goals as advised by the teacher. An example would be “Can you play this 5 times in a row without any mistakes?” That is a clear goal the child can understand. “Play for 5 minutes” is ambiguous and not a clear goal in most children’s minds
Help your child by helping them prioritise guitar in their life
Music should come much higher on the priorities list in the eyes of the parent. Many children today are busier than their parents and parents feel bad if their child is not involved in EVERYTHING. This makes finding time for consistent guitar practice very difficult. Imagine you are a child, you get up very early, go to school and sit in a desk for 6-7 hours.
You come home, do your homework, then you go to your brother’s karate because you can’t be left home alone, then there’s 90 minutes hours of soccer, then rush home, eat dinner and get ready for bed. After all of that running around, would you have the energy to sit and concentrate on a musical instrument?
Try not to pile on too much on your child in the effort to give them every opportunity. Instead, concentrate on things your child enjoys.
Scheduling in music in their lives
Music should be right behind homework on the priorities list and schedule if possible. Another remedy is to have your child go to bed earlier and practice when they wake up before school. Consistent focus for short periods of time regularly will greatly improve the students’ confidence and experience.
Extra Incentives to help your child practise guitar
The last tactic that can be effective but is not ideal is bribery. Tell them, if you practice for 4 days in a row, you will get a star each day. If you get 4 stars by the end of the week, you will get ice cream or candy, or whatever might motivate the student.
Hope these few tips help your child with their guitar practise. And even if it doesn’t, as long as they are enjoying the lessons and the teachers are being proactive with their learning in the sessions, they will still be getting a lot out of it.
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