Encouraging Musical Skills in Children

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violinDear “And You Will Have Kids”:

My daughter REALLY wanted to play a musical instrument.  She drove us crazy this past summer asking us to buy her a violin so she could join the orchestra at school this year.

Her interest has waned and it’s impossible to get her to practice now.  I have no idea what to do.  Help!

Musical Mom


Dear “Musical Mom”:

You are not alone in your struggles!  Getting a child to practice is a very common struggle for parents and their children to have.

I have three children who play instruments.  My one child is very motivated and practices constantly, even without reminders.  One child needs to be reminded to practice and the other child needs to be strongly encouraged to practice her instrument.

Recently, I asked this very question of a local mother.  She has 7 children, and all of them play professionally.  I asked her how she got her children to practice their instruments and her answer was simple.  “I expect them to practice just like I expect them to brush their teeth.  It’s just something the need to do and they do it.”  I gave that speech to my children and it didn’t really work too well for us.

What worked? Different methods for different kids.  My child who is most reluctant to practice is also my most competitive child.  She wanted to participate in a very exclusive string quartet and signed up to try out.  I encouraged her to practice the tryout music, but she didn’t want to.  I didn’t push her either.  She was simply SHOCKED when she didn’t make the quartet.  I mentioned how practicing might help her odds a little bit.  Since then, we haven’t had any issues.

Even if your child isn’t competitive, there are plenty of opportunities for her to show off her skills which may actually make her want to practice.  For example, I’m sure that the residents of your local nursing home would love a concert!  This is a great way to get your child to practice.  When my daughter first started playing violin, an elderly neighbor requested that she play for her.  My daughter was thrilled and would practice so she’d do a good job playing for the neighbor. 

For my other daughter, I had to use bribery.  If she practices so many minutes per day, she earns so many points.  Once she has accumulated so many points, she gets a shopping spree at the Dollar Store.  This has worked well.

My last child has a teacher who actually assigns her students a grade based upon their practice record.  In order to get an A, they must practice so many minutes.  Since she is very focused on getting good grades in school,  I haven’t had any issues.

Perhaps one of these methods may work for you!  Good luck!


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