Playing an instrument is physical, mental, and highly nuanced, and proficiency hinges on practice. Muscle memory fades each day your child’s instrument remains untouched, and even a few skipped days hinder progress. Instead, boost musical skills over winter break and set your child up for success when school resumes!
- Set Expectations & Provide Support
Talk with your child and their teacher to set expectations. If you’re traveling, is the instrument coming along? If so, when and where will practice happen? Support your child with logistics — research carry-on rules and never leave an instrument in a parked car. If your child has agreed to practice at a set time, build that into your schedule. Remember: when parents condone missed practice for any reason, children hunt for other seemingly valid excuses. To remedy this, establish a plan and stick to it.
- Embrace Morning Practice
Guests and holiday activities make afternoon and evening practice challenging. Instead, have your child choose a consistent wake-up time and practice shortly after. Their sense of accomplishment from morning practice spurs motivation and progress!
- Stick to the Plan
If the plan is to practice while Grandpa and Grandma walk the dog, follow through. Don’t let Grandpa and Grandma suddenly decide to bake cookies and still expect your child to happily practice. This would force your child to choose between social time and keeping their promise to practice.
- Harness Inspiration
Role models can motivate children to proudly imitate professional dedication. Let your child draw their own conclusions about how high-achievers work by providing books and interviews by these artists. It’s more effective for your child to hear from a Misty Copeland interview that Misty danced on Christmas growing up than it would be for you to tell your child, “Yo-Yo Ma practices on Christmas, you should too!”
- Keep Routines
Practice routines can comfort children experiencing homesickness or sadness around the holidays. It’s tempting to ditch practice in difficult times, but your child will benefit from the structure, focus, and familiarity that practice brings.
Happy practicing, everyone!
Lauren Alexandra Haley is a professional violinist, violist and teacher. A performance graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Haley is the founder of Lauren Haley Studios, which enrolls young musicians on both violin and viola and currently maintains a waiting list.
Haley’s book for parents of young musicians, Kids Aren’t Lazy: Developing Motivation & Talent Through Music, debuted at the #1 New Release spot in 10 Amazon categories in June 2018.
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