The trick to practice and growing and learning as a Musician is consistency. 10 minutes each day is way better than an hour on Saturday and then nothing all week. Repetition is one vital element in developing the necessary fine motor skills needed to play an instrument. Simple repetition. This is part of the grunt work of being a musician. We need these basic motor skills in order to have some tools to use in being creative and expressive.
As a student or parent of a student this means finding some kind of routine that suits the student and the people around them. This will be different for everyone and where it fits into your schedule is not important, its the consistency that matters. For some people it will be the same time every day, for some it will vary each day, I know my kids have a lot of idle time before school because their classes don’t start until 9.30am. The time of day doesn’t matter, again, consistency is the key. This is also one of the many wonderful life lessons a student gets from learning an instrument, discipline, routine and the benefit of hard work and effort.
It should also be noted that everyone is different and some students will need more encouragement than others. For students that really take to Music the playing and learning, the joy of expression becomes the reward. The thrill, gratification and kudos of performing does it for many but for some until that becomes the reality a little enticement and encouragement goes a long way. A little while ago I was chatting with with a group of musician friends and it actually surprised me that the majority of them admitted to being bribed and enticed into practicing their instruments in the early stages. That wasn't the case for me, I just loved it and wanted it, but like I say everyone is different. Of course positive feedback and encouragement should be your main tool but if this fails that new skateboard, Xbox game or day at the movies can be a useful carrot!
Another important play is providing the space and a good environment for practice, wether it be in the students bedroom or somewhere else in the house that is dedicated to playing and practicing. Wherever it is it should be comfortable and well lit. Distractions should be minimal and try to avoid areas of high traffic. (People traffic that is, and cars!) If the instrument is in a case make an effort to remove it from the case and place it on a stand, getting it out could be one more impediment for the unmotivated student. There should also be a music stand, a metronome and any other items that are specific to that instrument.
Lastly try to remember that playing music should be a fun and enriching experience, positive and enjoyable for ourselves and our kids. Too many people have a negative experience and never return to Music feeling it’s “not for me” due to a moment of discouragement or frustration. Getting through these times is always a challenge but the rewards are worth it. The main thing is to try and keep at it and make it fun! Music should be an outlet of expression for ever, a lifelong learning experience that inspires us to continually improve. All this in the name of communicating and bringing joy to those around us.
Please feel free to comment, engage and share. Thanks