Do you ask student musicians, "Did you practice this week (or today)?" This question is often answered with a shoulder shrug, an eye roll, or even a no. Then the parent or instructor is left with a closed dialogue that can quickly turn negative. It can cause a child musician to feel like they let down the adult who asked the question. By nature, children like to please the adults around them.
But what if you asked your student musician open-ended questions such as, "How did your music practice go this week (or today)?" "What is it that you like about this piece?" "What do you believe was easy for you?" "What are the challenges that you ran into?" "How do you think you should work on that hard part?" "What is in the assignment log to focus on this week?" "What was the story the composer was trying to tell in that piece?" This growth mindset approach can help open a dialogue with student musicians, their parents, and instructors. When working with children who are student musicians, it is essential to have a collaborative approach to support each student with their individual goals and realistic practice expectations.
Children are typically not intrinsically motivated to set up solid practice routines independently. The student, caregiver, and instructor should regularly discuss goals and set practice expectations accordingly. It is often helpful to start with small practice goals and small amounts of time. (4 days a week for 5 minutes can be a terrific starting point for students who are beginners). Some students need help understanding what practicing means and are often unsure where to begin. Setting up a clean and well-lit practice space is a good starting point. Creating a practice checklist also helps many students feel comfortable knowing what to do. Children can track their progress on the list with tally marks to pick up where they left off if they still need to complete everything on this checklist.
I am available as a resource to assist our students in becoming successful in their musical journeys. Our studio offers free workshops for our caregivers and instructors throughout the year on various topics to support our students. Attendees may join these workshops in person or online. I also offer weekly office hours to assist our instructors and caregivers. Feel free to contact me at rbordner@note-worthyexperiences to find a time that works for your schedule to discuss this topic further.