So many really good reasons exist for paving the pathway for children to study music. BEING PRODUCTIVE! is just one of them. Today, we live in a world of instant everything. Working hard for something and then celebrating the harvest is so important to realizing potential, but the instantaneous nature of our lives is robbing so many of the joy of working really hard for something important.
Children – really, everyone of us – need hard things to do everyday. In the days of the old family farms where every hand was so important to providing for the family and making the farm productive, providing good, hard work and valuable use of time was a cinch. However, today’s cultural and societal norms make schedules and hard things difficult to orchestrate. That is just ONE of the reasons why we chose to require music study and lessons for each of our children. Not only did those experiences provide opportunities for our children to learn new skills, develop talents, and feel good about themselves, but they required our children to work hard for a certain amount of time – depending on their age and proficiency level — every day on preparing for their next lesson. They had to learn to plan the use of their time around school, friends, fun and practice. That usually required getting up earlier in the morning, because that simply seemed to be the most consistent time for our family to get the work done. Our children worked with their teachers and their parents to decide the best approach for their practice. What was the goal of each practice period? How would they approach the task of mastering a new piece? Would they do scales and technique first? How much time would they spend.
Now, I have never known a child who loves to practice every day. But I also have never heard a grown child say “Why did you make me learn to play the piano?” They never dive right in with passion and enthusiasm to doing it every day, but they are never sorry when they do. Helping children through “hard things” requires parents to be actively involved. It requires fun challenges and lots of encouragement to “dig in” and “focus.” Parents must provide them the opportunity to feel really good about a successful practice period. Make use of the opportunity to show them how they improved from the beginning of the practice session to the end. Compliment them on their attitude and their determination. Celebrate. Now give yourself a moment to celebrate your parenting by considering the many ways that practicing an instrument provides skill and preparation for other areas of life.