One of the most common things I hear from parents is that getting practice started is the most challenging thing about practicing. As a 35 year practicer myself I know how hard it is!
Keep in mind that the first step is most often the hardest step for getting anything done.
Here is my number one favorite tip I learned for getting your practice with your child (or with anything!) started off on the right foot/note:
#1. Don’t start off with pressure to get it done…start off with some quality time together.
So often parents are trying to squish in the practice between 10 other things you need to get done. That is often the reality of our busy lives. However, if your child feels that pressure, they are going to resist it! One of my all time favorite practice tips that came from several of my best practicing students over the years is that the beginning of the practice is started with their child on their lap, catching up about their day for a few minutes.
Spend a little quality time together. That is tip number one!
The child feels you are there for them when you spend a little time with them first; you’re not just there to produce a violinist/musician or a good student who does their work. The message is: this isn’t JUST about getting the practice in. Instead of feeling squeezed in to your day and that they better produce something now on demand, they start off feeling loved. After all, the book Dr. Suzuki wrote is called Nurtured By Love and this whole process of practicing a musical instrument together is meant to strengthen your relationship with your child, not add more stress, pressure, and battles.
Try it out! You will also most likely enjoy your child, the practice, and the learning process more yourself. Practicing daily is a huge time commitment for parents. You might as well enjoy it, your child and the whole process or it will just feel like another thing on your list to get done. No one was more surprised than me when I first heard this years ago from one of my best practicing students. I thought they were all about discipline and getting in as much as they could. Over the years I’ve heard the same tip from other great practicing families.
Of course, I hear the opposite more times than I can count…that the practice starts with procrastination, screaming, and a lot of struggle. If this is your normal practice routine, try spending some time together first and in the long run it will probably save you a lot of time, effort and energy–and even strengthen your relationship with your child.
Connection, being present and a little time spent with your child yields great practice…and relationship…results.
I would love to hear what works best for you and your child! What gets your practice off to a great start 9 out of 10 times?