Learning music is one of the best things kids can do! Here are some tips to help your child make the most of their practice.
1. Keep your instrument accessible
Give your child a dedicated space to play their instrument and make it as easy as possible for your child to play. Avoid having to set up the instrument each time your child wants to play. Make access to the instrument as convenient as possible and let your child play their instrument whenever they want. If it’s a keyboard, make it as easy as turning it on for them to get started. If it’s drums, just sit and grab the sticks. For ukulele it should be as simple as picking it up off a ukulele stand and playing.
We want to break down any walls that get in the way of your child being able to play. Sometimes the best practice comes at unscheduled times. Kids love to sit down for a few minutes and just jam on their instrument. Give them the opportunity in the best way you can!
2. Have a quality instrument for your child to play
You don’t have to break the bank. But there is a wide variety of instruments out there. Choose the best instrument possible within your budget. It makes playing the instrument way more fun. Check out our recommended instruments here.
3. Encourage your child to practice AND “play”
There are many ways to practice an instrument but the two that you want to focus on are 1. Dedicated practice and 2. Jamming. What’s the difference?
Dedicated practice means your child is working on something new. It could be learning something from a My Music Workshop lesson, or something else. Your child will be working on playing something they can’t currently play or playing something they can play even better! You’ll want to make sure you child does this for at least 15 minutes at a time, 3-4 days per week (or more).
Jamming is just having fun with music. They can play along with music, or just play whatever they want on their instrument. This is like instrument free play and it’s just as important as dedicated practice. You’ll want your child to do this as much as they want. Remember, we “play” music and “playing” is fun! Let’s make sure that our kids get plenty of time to “play” music.
4. Create a routine
As we mentioned above doing regular, dedicated practice is important. You’ll want to help your child create a practice routine. Whether their practice time is after school, in the evenings, or in the mornings doesn’t matter. It just matters that they remember to practice and that they stay consistent. Come up with a plan that works for your family and your child.
5. Be consistent
Four practice sessions that are 15 minutes long are usually better than one session that is one hour long. Being consistent over days, weeks and months is how real progress is made when learning an instrument. Shoot for consistent practice over long practice sessions that are not consistent.
6. Play along with music
Music is a language. One of the best ways to learn a language is to speak the language with others who are fluent. When a young child learns to speak, they are talking with people who are experts in speaking their language. They hear the language being spoken and emulate others who speak it.
When your child plays along with music they are playing along with good musicians and will be learning from them. Your child does not have to be perfect, in fact they don’t even have to sound good to you, as long as they enjoy it and play along with music consistently, they will be “conversing” with experts and will be improving in really cool ways!
Use the Jam Alongs that are available at My Music Workshop and your child’s favorite music to play along with.
Grab a free week at My Music Workshop here.
7. Avoid distractions
Create a distraction free environment for your child to practice their instrument. Keep siblings away, keep sounds (other than their instrument and their My Music Workshop lesson) to a minimum. The deeper your child can focus on what they are learning or playing the better they will learn it. Concentration makes a big difference to learning music. However, if your child has a tough time focusing, don’t worry, that’s normal. Just keep the distractions away and help your child do as much as they can. If they can learn to focus for longer periods as they learn their instrument it can be a huge win!
Using headphones is a great way to keep distractions away. Look for headphones that are both Bluetooth enables AND have a wire. If your child is learning piano, your digital piano or keyboard likely won’t have Bluetooth and will need the headphones to be plugged in. New phones and tablets require the headphones be Bluetooth and you’ll want your child be able to use one pair of headphones for either connection. We found a few good headphones for kids. Check them out on our recommendations page here.
8. Push through when practice gets tough
Anyone who has played an instrument for years knows that it can be one of the most wonderful things in the world. But, it can also be one of the most frustrating things. There are periods where practice is fun and easy and other times when practice seems boring or feels like a big chore. The key is to ride the wave of both of these kinds of times and push through when it’s tough. If it were easy everyone would do it! Playing an instrument is reserved for those who can commit through easy and the hard times. The reward however, is WELL worth it! Stick to it!
9. Remember music is for the long run
Becoming good, or proficient, at playing an instrument doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it doesn’t even happen in a few weeks or months. While we can improve in huge ways over the course of a few weeks. The true musical journey takes years, even a lifetime. As musicians, we never stop wanting to improve. The funny thing about playing music is we never really “arrive” at a destination. There is always more to learn, improvements to make and challenges to overcome. That is what makes music so amazing and so fun. Even the greats can get greater!
10. Have fun
We truly cannot emphasize this enough. Make sure to remember that music can be joyful and fun. It isn’t all the time. But, we need to get back to the joy of playing music as much as we can and make the journey of learning an instrument a fun one! Let’s play!