Playing an instrument is an art form. And in art, there is a common misconception that for young musicians it will just… come naturally. But like anything else in life, mastering an instrument comes only after hours and hours of work and dedication. Which is good news. It means anyone can become a musician, so long as they put in the time and effort.
As the parent of a band or orchestra student, there are simple ways you can encourage your young musician. Early on, most parents will have to take the lead to develop good habits. But as your child gets older, they can (and should) be responsible for holding themselves accountable. Adhering to a simple process can help keep them on track and produce remarkable results over time. After all, people tend to spend more time on activities they feel they are good at.
Here are a few of our tips for supporting your band or orchestra student.
Tip #1: Praise Their Progress
Even if your child loves to play their instrument, there will be bad days. And almost always, progress will be slow and hard earned. Your support will their lift spirits during low points and motivate them to keep at it.
Try to praise achievements and work ethic, rather than skill, which will take time to develop. Did your child learn one new bar of music? Fantastic! Let them know you are proud — a large percentage of the population doesn't even know what a bar is. Did they complete a 40-minute practice session, riddled with errors? Good for them! Sticking with something, even when it gets hard is an impressive feat.
Praise can also come in the form of planning music-themed activities for your young musician, showing your interest and pride. Listen together to the music your child is trying to master, or any music for that matter. Attend a concert or recital. Not only are these activities fun, but also, they demonstrate to your child where hard work can lead. Such experiences will help your child remain dedicated even on days they lack motivation.
Tip #2: Young Musicians Need to Be Encouraged to Practice
There is no way around it, practice is essential. Depending on your child’s age and skill level, just 10 minutes a day could be enough. As they progress, sessions may last much longer. Regardless, it is important that young musicians be able to focus, no matter the duration. A routine helps immensely. Practicing at the same time and place every day promotes consistency and provides helpful structure.
Especially when your child is younger, notice their energy levels throughout the day. Choose a practice time when typically, they are alert and in good spirits. This way, they will get more out of the session. Older children can decide this for themselves.
Environment matters, too. Designate a special place to practice that is quiet and properly outfitted. Provide a music stand and comfortable chair and perhaps a metronome. If it helps your child to hear the piece they are learning, make sure a playing device is available.
Finally, setting specific and realistic goals for each session is key. It can be as simple as working through one or two bars of music or something more complex. By setting an attainable goal, your child will begin the session with more intention and end it with a sense of accomplishment.
Tip #3: Supplement In-School Learning with Private Lessons
Band and orchestra sessions and at-home practice build an important foundation for young musicians. Incorporating private lessons is a wonderful way to further enrich the learning experience and provide one-on-one instruction for young musicians starting out.
A band or orchestra director may not be an expert in your child’s instrument. Private instructors are, and they can offer in-depth lessons on parts, mechanics and nuances of that instrument. At Meyer Music, our vetted, qualified private instructors work with students of all skill levels. Regular sessions are a fantastic way to hold your child accountable when working toward specific goals. And when they hit a roadblock, there is somewhere to turn for expert guidance and a way forward.
Mastering a new instrument is a process. An instructor has walked the same path and will understand your child’s frustrations, meeting them where they are to overcome challenges. And as your young musician progresses, their instructor will be alongside to celebrate and then, help determine what goal to tackle next.
Trust Meyer Music for music education needs. If you have questions about how to support your child’s musical journey or would like to get to know our professionals, contact any of our three locations in Overland Park, Blue Springs or Kansas City North to get started.