Practice Pointers

Practice tips and tricks to help your child get the most out of their practice time. First, It's important to make daily practice a part of your child’s daily routine, like brushing their teeth, or getting dressed. (Or at least weekdays, if you can’t manage the weekends). Started early, and with a lot of encouragement and reminding from you, that habit will start to become routine.  With younger children (ages 4-6) the afternoon or early evening might work better. As they get into the school years, I’ve found that setting aside practice time before school (as daunting as that sounds) produces quicker results with less time. Their brains are fresh, and even a few minutes of good concentrated time will pay off. Experiment, and see what works for you and your child.

Next, show genuine pride and excitement over every accomplishments, no matter how small. Don’t forget to let your child “play with” her instrument, as well as “play it.” Let her creativity out. Have her make sound effects or make up a tune to a story she knows well, or even better, have her make her own story up! Tell her to make up a sad song, then a happy one. Music stimulates so many areas of the brain; your child just might surprise you!

Finally, don’t let the discipline of music get in the way of the joy of music-making. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it can be frustrating.  But the joy children experience when they really get “in” to a particular piece of music is something that can rarely be duplicated. Like anything in life, you get out of it what you put in to it.

Excerpt from Ellen Pendleton Troyer, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and a mommy