Do you feel like your child is resistant or allergic to practice? Does practice time seem an unproductive battle? Let’s pause for a moment and think about the reasons why you are studying an instrument in the first place.
As a teachers, the reasons why we teach are usually pretty similar. Our love of music inspires us to make a positive impact in the lives of our students and their families (both at their instrument and beyond). As a parent and student, the reasons for why you take lessons can be much more varied. It could be that your child specifically asked to study this instrument. Maybe you love playing your instrument, and want your children to have the same experience you did in lessons as a child. Perhaps you always wished you could have taken lessons, and now you want your child to have the opportunity.
If we step back and look at the big picture, we can probably find some long-term goals that teachers and parents can all agree upon.
We want our children to develop:
a life long love of music
noble character traits such as honesty, bravery, wisdom, and integrity
compassionate hearts and empathy for others
If we can remember why we are doing this, it puts many of the practice struggles that stress us out into perspective. Keeping in mind the ultimate goals of developing character and inspiring a love of music, might help you embrace the everyday struggles as simply part of the process.
Children go through phases of resistance about doing all kinds of things. Battles can ensue over something as seemingly simple as brushing teeth. Yet, giving up on brushing teeth is not an option. Why? As parents your ultimate goal is to instill good hygiene habits, and hope they grow up with a full set of healthy teeth. So you get creative and find ways to make sure they brush their teeth.
When we forget why we are on this musical journey, it is easy to become angry or resentful about working through frustrating practice sessions.
When you step back and remember a bigger goal, it can help you find a new mindset.
If the bigger goal is character development through studying something challenging, then you can see today’s difficult practice session as chance to coach you child through their strong emotions.
If the bigger goal is instilling a lifelong love of music, then you can help your child find the joy in playing their instrument with a funny practice game or a beloved review piece.
If the bigger goal is to develop empathy and compassion, then you can find a more compassionate approach by putting yourself in your child’s shoes to empathize with how your treatment of the situation impacts them.
When we look at difficult practice sessions with a big picture perspective, we can remind ourselves that the progress you make in the music today is not as important as giving our children the tools for dealing with challenges. Tools that will eventually make practicing easier, and tools they will need in other situations throughout their entire lives.
Savor this time with your child. Remember why you are here. Cultivate the mindset that practice with your child is not a burden, it is an opportunity.