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"You need to practice!" We've all heard this from our parents if we play a music instrument.  I remember receiving ultimatums from my parents saying that if I don't practice, they'll no longer pay for the lessons, or if I'm not behind my instrument, they'll sell the drum set.  Practicing, especially for young children, can be daunting at times.  It's not always fun and it doesn't always bring instant results.  As a result, young children can have a hard time practicing.  Below are three practical principles you can use to get your child to practice.


Recognize Your Child's Attention Span


Some children have the capacity to focus for 30 minutes.  Other children can start losing their attention after 10 minutes.  How long can your child focus?  It's important to recognize this.  Some parents impose rules of children practicing up to one hour, but in reality, a student may only get 20 minutes of quality practice time before losing attention.  Do what's best for your child.  It may not be a time you prefer, but getting them to practice and customizing a duration is a large step in the right direction!


Start Small!


As a student gets acclimated with lessons, she will learn more.  As a result, there is more to review and more new material to practice for next lesson.  The practice time therefore, largely increases as a student learns more.  What happens though when you have a difficult time getting your child to practice? Start small! In the very early stages of taking lessons, start your child off with something as short as 5 minutes a day.  As they learn and gain momentum, incrementally increase the time.  For example, in 2 weeks, increase it to 10 minutes a day.  In 4 weeks, increase the time to 15 minutes.  Like contributing money in an investment, when you see it grow and your income grows, you increase your contribution.  Starting small is also a non-threatening way to get a student to practice.  If you demand your child to immediately start at 30 minutes, it can be intimidating and overwhelming.  Starting small and incrementally increasing the time as your child grows is a great way to build quality and sufficient practice time.


Offer Incentives.


You've now cultivated the discipline of regular practice for your child.  Great! How do you get your child to maintain this, or what if there are times he doesn't want to practice? Offer an incentive! Set the expectations before the practice session.   You can say, "If you practice without being disrupted for 20 minutes, you can play a game on the iPad".  Whatever the incentive is, I have found these to be very effective as they motivate a student to do a good job.


Can't Get Your Child To Practice?


often give my younger students incentives by doing a fun musical activity for the last 5 minutes of the lesson if they do well.  Lastly, offering incentives doesn't enable a child, because they must earn the right to doing something recreational.  It offers something fun, but that must be earned through hard work!


Instilling these principles cultivates self-discipline in a child's life that will help see drastic results in their music endeavors. says, "Playing an instrument teaches kids to persevere through hours, months, and sometimes years of practice before they reach specific goals, such as performing with a band or memorizing a solo piece." Finally, these principles can transcend in other areas of life, including developing responsibility of doing homework, or maintaining a schedule with extra curricular activities.  

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