If you are new to the music lessons scene and how it all works here are some thoughts.
Practicing 5 times per week is important. One of the things children learn in music is how important it is to have a routine and how some things are learned over time -not all at once! Children like things to be “instant” and they want many things”now”. Learning music takes time and it is worthwhile. It helps in reading, in fine motor skills, in self-esteem, in creative abilities, in personal expression and in emotional ways too as music can lift your spirits. “You’ve changed the fine anatomy of the brain” says Dr. Chugani, a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan Children’s Hospital.
If you are having practising struggles -its normal. Practicing requires both structure and focus. Short practice times which are frequent are preferable to long sessions. Beginning practice with something that quickly has a feeling of “I can” and then sandwiching something that is new and more challenging, and ending with the “I can” feeling makes slipping off the piano bench a positive experience.
Research shows (that means I am not making it up!) that children learn their “disposition” for loving music not from their teacher but from their parent. So, do you as a parent take an active interest in making music and listening to music, how is your practice attitude. Children that are 4-8 yr need parents to help direct their practice times. Left on their own to practice makes no sense. Just like reading with your child daily helps children to increase their vocabulary and ability to read, spending 5- 10 min with your child practicing will have amazing results.
Children learn through repetition. A huge part of learning an instrument is patterning the brain -if that doesn’t happen then playing will not become a natural skill. To develop the neural pathways for playing, repetition must occur to give the brain a chance to firmly entrench those pathways. It is in early childhood to age of 9- when the structures for musical development are still actively being laid down and its relatively easy to forge new neural pathways in the brain.
Music is a wonderful skill to have in your life. Take the time with your child to set a routine of practicing. All it takes is 5- 10 min daily with the beginner student. This will set a pattern and as they climb to harder levels they will understand how to practice.
I hope these thoughts will encourage you to know that music takes time to develop but it is soooo worth it!!
Director of Edmonton Academy of Music
Vocal, Piano and Theory Teacher.