Developing A Consistent And Deliberate Practice Routine

I am currently teaching over 50 unique and wonderful children each week and parents often ask me what they can do to help with practice at home.

The ability to learn is not fixed. You don't need natural talent, a high IQ or even a lot of free time. Just a little bit of effort and a routine.

The best thing you can do as a parent is to encourage a consistent and deliberate practice routine for your child. Passion and hard work are all that is needed to be a great musician. Children need help to establish a routine and when it has been established they can start to self-manage their practice sessions. Helping them in this way, you are teaching your child that stamina, perseverance, hard work and determination (rather than talent) are the crucial elements to mastery.

I suggest looking at your family day and choosing the most consistently available time for your child to develop their practice habit. It may before or straight after school, or just before dinner. It might be before bed. Whatever time you pick, think of it as a long-term habit you are helping your child develop.

As a teacher, it is my job to inspire, spark curiosity and keep the musical passion alive as well as teach practice strategies, correct technique, develop musicality and knowledge. Advancement requires constantly testing the limits of your current abilities, and there are always things that need to be improved. As a result frequent feedback from both myself and you as a parent is vital.

"your playing is full of expression today”
 "that tricky passage sounds like it is coming together"
"you worked really hard today, well done"
"I love hearing that piece"
 "that sounds really hard, it is great that you are putting so much effort into the challenging parts"

Note that the above types of feedback praise effort rather than talent. If a child believes their success is due to talent alone, the learning difficulties they will inevitably face at some point on their musical journey might give them the impression that they are ‘not good enough’ and possibly result in them giving up. Identify the reasons your child finds joy in music; it might be the emotive aspects of music itself, the joy of learning, or personal accomplishment in mastering pieces. Whatever the source of their joy is, help them remember it at the times when practice is most frustrating or challenging.

Without practice, there is no progress. Whether it is 5 minutes or 30 minutes, help your child develop their practice routine and shower them in encouragement and praise, and they will be looking forward to practice before you know it.