The ability to play a musical instrument is a gift that can last a lifetime, but sometimes children can view practice as a chore that takes a lifetime. It’s important for them to view practice as an enjoyable learning experience instead of a mandatory work session. There are many things parents can do to encourage children to practice their instrument of choice and instill a love of music.

Choose the Right Instrument  Encourage Children to Practice their Instrument

It should go without saying that your child should play the instrument they are interested in. Work with your child to make the right choice, but do keep in mind that some instruments may be difficult for children to play. For instance, the violin requires a certain degree of technical skill and large instruments like the tuba are simply too big for smaller children. You can talk to your school band director or music teacher for ideas. Some may let your child try an instrument out before you decide to move forward with lessons.

Set up a Place to Play

It’s best to have a place set aside for music practice, one that’s free of clutter and distractions. A pleasant and relaxed atmosphere is more conducive for creativity than a dark basement or messy bedroom. Make sure there’s a good light source and your child has everything he or she needs to practice, such as a music stand and all related musical equipment. You don’t need to get a construction estimation for a whole new room, just work with what you have.

Stick to a Schedule

If children adhere to a regular practice schedule, it will become part of their routine and will be easier to stick with. Determine the best time of day.  All children are different; some may prefer to practice in the morning before school, some may prefer after dinner.  Even if they only have 10 minutes, make sure to get it in. It’s better to have a short session every day than a longer session only a couple of times a week. This helps children form a better connection with their instrument.

Give Positive Reinforcement

Try to be present when your child practices and express interest in what they are learning. Praise them for every step forward and encourage other family members to applaud your music student’s efforts. Positive reinforcement goes a long way and gives the child a sense of pride. On the other hand, keep any negative comments to yourself. It takes time to master an instrument, and your child’s teacher will help him or her with any problems that come up. There will be ups and downs, and your child may get discouraged at times. Just remind your child that her time and effort will pay off.

Don’t Bribe, but Do Reward

Avoid things like sticker charts that make music practice seem like a chore. Instead, reward your child for a job well done by taking him to see a musical performance of their choice. Concerts, musicals or even live music at a restaurant are all things your budding musician will enjoy. Make music fun, and your child will be more likely to stick with it and enjoy playing for a lifetime.

Scott Huntington is a writer, reporter, blogger, and percussionist, specializing in marimba. He currently lives in PA and with his wife and son. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington

  • Edward Motter-Vlahakos

    Sometimes, for me, getting students the music they want entails me
    transcribing a particular pop song for them, that involves a lot of
    decisions for me about trying to be true to the original melody so the
    students can play along with the track (key, rhythm, register, etc) or
    transpose the piece to an easier key and with a simplified rhythm which
    will enable them to play it more easily. Sometimes giving them a very
    difficult transcription which is clearly beyond their current abilities
    is an excellent motivator, and sometimes it isnt, every student is a
    unique individual who responds to a wide range of positive or negative
    reinforcements- some will rise to the challenge and work their butts off
    to be able to conquer the piece and some will curl up in a little
    tearful ball and quit. One parent came up with an excellent motivator
    for her daughter (who was a very commercially minded girl), she paid her
    $5 for every day that she practiced on her own for 30 minutes or more-
    but at the end of the week the child had to pay for her lesson herself.
    Pretty quickly the student realized that if she practiced 7 days a week
    she would be turning a $10 profit weekly, and promptly doubled her
    efforts at home. Everyone is different, and part of our job as teachers
    is learning what makes each pupil tick, and helping them develop good
    discipline which will reward them with a wealth of achievements, both in
    music and life. This is the way we do it at my studio, anyway…

  • Emma Rusel

    Make practice a daily routine. Give your child enough time to settle down, focus on the music and actually play. Be positive and encourage their efforts. Learning to play an instrument takes time.

  • Leesa Johnson

    If anyone really interested in music, then it is must for them to do a regular practice
    of music instrument. You would like to follow the shared information too.
    Find music tutor online here

  • Yannick

    Very nice article – and such an important topic that many (especially non-instrumental) parents aren’t aware of!

    I’d add to the list: in due time and without adding unnecessary pressure, give your child a musical challenge that helps him / her grow. It can be a simple performance, but I’ve found it hugely rewarding to play in front of an actual audience early on in my drumming.

  • Matt Jones

    Practising is one of the hardest things about playing an instrument, it can get put off far too easily. These are great tips on how to encourage your children to practice.