7 Tips to Get Your Child to Practice

You’ve just picked up your child’s new instrument, everyone is smiling, your child promises to practice, everything is great! Two weeks later, the instrument is collecting dust, and the word practice brings tears and tantrums. What went wrong???

Keep it simple & small:

Take 1-2 measures, or a line, and have them play it carefully 5 times. Reward, then move on to another small piece and repeat.

Routine – same time and place each day:

Like exercise, routine makes practicing more predictable for kids. Use the same location and time. Keep the tools they will need for practicing out in the location to focus time on practice, not set-up.

Small pieces – small rewards:

Chocolate chips, raisins, grapes, and M&Ms work well for rewards after practicing small blocks. The sugar provides positive feedback the child will associate with practicing.

Number of repetitions vs. minutes:

Minutes can disappear with rosining the bow, scratching your head, staring into space… Repetitions are clean and simple. Start with small numbers and build up with age or difficulty of the piece. Use pennies to keep track of the number of repetitions (or M&Ms, or raisins…)

Make Clear goals for practice (goals for lines or measures, vs concerts):

Have your child think about what they’re trying to achieve: intonation, bow grip, rhythm – and pick-one at a time. Then try to put it together later.

Set fun goals:

Try making a Video for grandma & grandpa as birthday or holiday presents. Combine a mini concert and tea party. If they have friends who play, set up an afternoon mini concert where everyone plays one piece then have cake and cookies. Be creative!

Game day on Friday (or Saturday):

Link playing one line correctly to a move on the tic-tac-toe board (or another simple game). If multiple siblings play, have all of them playing the game.