How can parents support their child as a young musician? There are many different ways you can offer support. Here are a few ideas.
First of all, the younger the child, the more support they’ll need from a parent. If they don’t read yet, your child will definitely need you to guide them through which pages they should be practicing and how many times they should play each piece that day or how long they need to practice. Read them what the teacher wrote in their book. Sit by their side. Help them practice flashcards. Let them know that you are there to support them.
As they get older, you can gauge how much to step back and let them do the practicing on their own. There is no magic age for this.
Each child is different in their development and personality.
Show interest in what they are learning. If you don’t attend the lesson with your child, ask them what they learned that day and demonstrate that to you. Look them in the eye while they are talking to you.
Provide opportunities for your child to share their talents. My dad used to always ask me to play for people who would come to visit. I hated it! I’m sure I rolled my
teenage eyes at the time. But he prodded me on. Often reluctantly, I would play my flute or the piano for guests. Now I look back and am grateful that he did that.
Shhhhh…..Let the teacher be the teacher, especially during the lesson. If you attend your child’s lesson, please be quiet during the lesson and let the teacher do the teaching. You can assist your child during the week.
Don’t be overbearing. Never be threatening in a way that would bring fear to the child. In addition, anger is NEVER the answer. Stay calm. Stay positive.
Compliment them for getting to their lesson on time, for practicing that day, for giving their best effort. Find something to praise them about. If nothing else, congratulate them on how well they put their flute together or how they keep all their music books stacked neatly in the same place.
Be patient. I know it can be extremely frustrating as a parent to be paying for lessons that your child doesn’t practice for. At some point, I know many parents give up the fight and let their children quit. That is a difficult subject and each family situation is different. Obviously, I’m a supporter for keeping them in lessons. I’ve had so many adults regretfully say to me, “I wish my parents wouldn’t have let me quit music lessons when I was younger.”
Find incentives to motivate your child to practice. I’m a chart person. Just ask my kids. Growing up, they had all kinds of charts. Chore Charts. Practice Charts. Reading Charts. Play Charts. You name it. For some people the reward of a sticker, or something else works. For others, it doesn’t. As a parent you have to be creative and learn what works best for your child. Find what motivates them and what incentives you are willing to follow through with.
I know of one parent that said their child could not eat dinner until they had completed their daily practicing. I don’t necessarily agree with this one, but, you decide.
An easy incentive is that they can’t go play with friends or play video games until their practicing is completed.
At one point while growing up, my parents would pay us for practicing. We didn’t get an allowance so that incentive worked for me but not for my other siblings.
Another incentive my dad would often use was that if I would go practice after dinner, he would do the dishes and clean up the kitchen. For me, that was a no brainer. I’d take practicing over dishes any day!
Above all, be encouraging. Especially if your child is expressing frustration while learning to play the flute or any other instrument, express kind words towards your child to help them stay patient in the learning process. Inspire them to keep practicing and to keep trying. Remind them that it takes a lot of work to master anything.
These principles of parental support can be applied to many other interests and hobbies of your children not just for music lessons. I challenge you to discover additional positive ways you can help your child through this exciting learning process called life.