How To Help Strengthen Your Child’s Love Of And Interest In Music
Often parents tell me that their child just loves coming to their music classes but they are worried because their child is not practising in between classes. It is natural to think that way but here is the good news – this is perfectly fine, so you do not need to worry about it.
“How outrageous - that’s ridiculous!” I can hear you saying. Let me explain further.
Around the world, many children are being coerced and cajoled into attending music classes, battling with their parents each week about practicing, and only practicing because they have to learn a piece of music that given the choice, they would never listen to. These children will become the hesitant adults who will ring us 20 or 30 years later looking to resume music but worried they have not “got what it takes”. Some adults never return to music because their childhood experiences were so off-putting.
Let’s break that cycle right now. As parents, what you signed up for was to give your child the fantastic opportunity to learn a new hobby. What is important about a hobby? That it’s fun, and something done for enjoyment. Something that takes you into a positive and creative space where you can zone out for a while from the grind of daily life and stressful things. Hobbies are things we look forward to doing. We do them because we want to do them, not because someone is telling us to do it.
Why do we love listening to and playing music? Because it helps us change our emotional state and feelings and it’s a whole other world to explore.
We think it’s fantastic that parents want to help their children to learn music - it’s a brilliantly creative hobby that helps with concentration, memory and confidence.
But that is what it is - a hobby at this stage. The fun factor in classes is the glue that helps children retain an interest in their instrument which may go up and down a little - and that is normal. Think back when you were a child - can you tell me you always had the same level of excitement about all your hobbies all the time? And did your parent nagging you help you to get enthusiastic more about your hobby?
So, when children are young, look at learning to play music like swimming or drama or martial arts classes - children go to their classes and have a great time, and even if they do not practise in between classes, they will get there and advance, make new friends and grow in self-confidence.
We notice that if parents go down the route of talking about practising their instrument like talking about ‘doing their homework’, the child will have the same emotional ingrained response.
Over time what was supposed to be a hobby becomes a 'chore/ work' and associated with nagging from mum and dad. As children get older it is natural that they want to have a little bit of ‘control’ about something in their life. They know they will have to do their school homework, so they try to get some of that ‘control’ by refusing to play their instrument. Over time the hobby turns into a source of conflict.
So just let your child keep loving their music classes and don’t worry about the lack of practice. Remember, it’s like swimming - they might not practise in between but they will get there.
All children are different and some have many hobbies. So, it’s a wonderful thing when parents can get a bit of the music into them so they are well rounded. It doesn’t matter if they might slightly prefer another hobby at the moment. As your child grows older they may naturally start to play their instrument more for relaxation - we see this happen all the time. Their intrinsic love of music will now take them along further and this is a more powerful motivator than any extrinsic thing like ‘passing a music exam’. At this point they may give up other hobbies to focus on music and may want to do extra classes like songwriting.
The best way to encourage your child’s love of music and their instrument is to ask them to consider taking a special role at family events like birthdays and Christmas by playing a tune. Also encourage them to take part in our student rehearsals and performances and to take their instrument on any sports/camping trips and holidays away.
When music is used in this social way and is well received and perceived as cool by others, this helps your child’s self-esteem develop in a very positive way.
If you live in Dublin, Ireland, check out our awesome guitar lessons for kids in Dublin!