By Vivien L. Li: Parental involvement in a child's musical education is more important than before. Usually, the age when children normally begin learning musical instruments is the age when they need lots of encouragement and approval. Parental involvement can help foster their children's growth and at the same time see rapid results. Read further for the seven key ways you can be involved in your child's progress:
1. Be supportive of their choice of musical instrument.
OK, you've never been very fond of loud noise, so it might be a little uncomfortable when your child tells you he wants to play the trumpet. However, realize that your child's choice of musical instrument reflects his interests. Whether he chooses a loud or soft instrument, your child is still showing a desire to express himself through music. If he decides he wants to sound really good on, say, drums, this goal will motivate him to spend significant amounts of time practicing, rather than being bored or restless.
2. Help them set a consistent daily practice time.
Consistency is key. For beginners, I recommend practicing 30 minutes a day. But 30 minutes all at once may seem like forever! So, work with your child to incorporate practice time into their schedule. And remember, it doesn't need to be 30 minutes consecutively. Does your child have 10 free minutes between breakfast and having to catch the school bus? Set aside those 10 minutes for practice time. What about 10 more minutes as soon as she gets home? The last 10 minutes can in the evening, either before or after homework. Make sure that you are aware of the practice schedule, and gently remind your child when it is time to practice.
3. Encourage them to perform for you several times a week.
During elementary and middle school, children are still at an age where they seek your approval and want to make you happy. So, let them do that! How about asking them to hold a concert for you once or twice a week? Tell them they can decide what songs they want to play, and then set up an area in your family room where they can give the concert. If there are older siblings, ask them to be present as well. After the concert, make sure to tell your child specific things you enjoyed about their performance.
4. Take them to different types of concerts and musical theater events.
Ever since I can remember, my mom has played recordings of traditional Chinese music in the house. This constant exposure to music at an early age helped me to gain an awareness and appreciation for quality music. If music is a constant in your home environment, then your child will sub-consciously absorb its positive influence. By exposing your child to recordings and performances, your child will begin to develop a natural ear for what good music can sound like. Many schools and local theaters have performances throughout the year. Great opportunities abound, so make sure to take advantage of them.
5. Praise them for every accomplishment.
Praise must be genuine. If it is false or is merely masking criticism, your child will pick up on it. No matter what level your child is at, there will be something positive to praise. Whether it is learning a new note or a new song, be proud of your child for that. Praise them in front of their siblings or friends. They will remember your positive words, and it will serve to motivate them in an invaluable way.
6. Select a teacher who is compatible with your child's personality
Since band directors have on average thirty to forty students to instruct during any given class, it's very hard to address each child's individual needs. If you decide to seek outside help by inviting a private teacher to work with your child, keep in mind that the teacher's personality is as equally important as his/her background and accomplishments. If your child feels like he can trust his teacher, he will be more inspired to practice outside of lessons, and you will notice much quicker progress.
7. Reward your child.
In addition to verbal praise, give your child tangible rewards. For example, when she has achieved a personal goal, take her out for ice cream, her favorite movie, or a day at the zoo. Or perhaps reward her with a CD from her favorite flutist.
If you follow these seven key strategies for involvement in your child's musical education, you will notice significant improvement in your child's progress.
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