Help! My child won't practice music!
(Try a practice log)
If your child won't practice their musical instrument, slow down and try a new approach. Click on any of the music practice logs on the right for your free pdf
Before signing up for music lessons with each of my kids, we had a chat about responsibility. I explained that everyone involved has a job in order for it to work. My job as the parent is to pay the teacher and to drive my child to lessons. The teacher’s job is to help my child to learn how to play. The child’s job is to come to the lesson prepared and to practice. What was that last one? PRACTICE! If you're looking for some ideas to
make music practice more fun,
there are music practice games you can try.
At different times I’ve had some frustration with each of my kid’s practice habits. I made a checklist, of course, because that’s what I do. It’s a practice log for them to keep track of their time.
For my older child, who plays piano, I print this
each week for him to write down his assignments and log his time on each one. It helps him target work on certain pieces that he might put off and is a neutral (i.e. not mom) way for him to see what time he has spent on what. For him, as an 11-year old, he’s pretty independent with this, and it’s a great way to cultivate his own deliberate practice. He totals his number of minutes so he can self assess his practice.
For my younger child, who plays violin, we use an incentive to encourage him to practice a little bit each day. His teacher offered a trophy if he practiced 100 days in a row, but that was way too long term for him. I needed to break up that incentive into much smaller chunks so he could have some success with it. My solution was to buy a box of ice cream bars and he gets to eat one if he practices seven days in a row. We use a
basic weekly practice log
for him to put his stickers on daily when he practices.
Yet another option is to try a
pyramid style music log,
which was especially useful for jump starting the motivation. It was also easier to convince him to practice during our vacation, as seen in this photo, so if your child won't practice, you might give it a try. I gave a small prize (like a sticker, pencil, whatever) after 1 day, then 2 more days, then 3 more days, etc. and then after 5+ days, the prize got a little bigger, like an ice cream sandwich from the freezer. After the 10 day benchmark (cumulative total of 55 days since it's 1+2+3+4 etc.) the scale goes down again to right about when my little dude gets low energy, the benchmarks became closer together. This worked well for us!
clock style practice log
lets the child keep track of minutes, if the goal is a certain number of hours per week. Some kids get motivated to fill in an entire hour sooner in this way. Older kids who may practice an hour a day can use one sheet per week. What ideas do YOU have for encouraging your child?
bubblegum machine style log
lets the child fill in a bubblegum ball for each day practiced. This might work well for a long term goal of a certain number of days. If your child won't practice, you might consider not requiring consecutive days of practice and instead focus on the total days of practice. Try one or several of these--better yet, let your child choose his or her favorite!
Getting into the habit of practicing music isn’t easy, especially with busy schedules. And yes, there are times when a child won't practice. Try a practice log and see if it gets easier. Even if it doesn’t, you can eat the ice cream :)
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