"I just sign my kid up for the music lessons and then it's your job, okay?" No. Well, not entirely.
It's not just the music teacher's responsibility to support your child in their music. One lesson lasts usually between 30-60min per week and this is how long the teacher sees your child. The rest of the time children are either at school, have other hobbies or are... with you! Here is why you have a big responsibility for the success of your child's music lessons and why this is also an opportunity to learn something for yourself.
What can you do as a parent?
Have the instrument ready
Keep distractions away
Create a diverse music environment
Give structure and routines
Remember it's for them
Focus on the fun
Find musical friends
Engage in music together
1. Get excited!
Firstly, get excited that your child is starting to learn about music! Learning a musical instrument is so beneficial for your child’s personal growth and development. If your child doesn't see excitement in our eyes for their new interest, they will quickly lose their own enthusiasm for it.
But there is an upside to this: The more excited you are about their new path (be it as a hobby or later a career path) the more they will feel that they are on the right track of things. Be an enthusiastic audience for the music your child is working on and they will feel safe in trying this new thing in their lives called music.
2. Have the instrument ready
Make your child's instrument quickly accessible. When the guitar is always in it's bag in the corner of the bedroom it is not very attractive to pick it up. Get a stand and leave it outside all the time. That way your kid (or you) can pick it up anytime they feel like it. Having a note stand (already put together and with the notes on it) and necessary equipment (tuner, picks, rosin, bow) close and ready, of course also helps a lot!
3. Keep distractions away
When it's time for them to practice take your child's distractions away (many times literally). Phones, tv, other toys or siblings can distract a child intensely. In this case, like in many others, just think: "Would it be easy for you to keep focused on playing music with this?" By the way: Also you as a parent can be a big distraction. Give your child the space to explore and practice their music on their own.
4. Create a diverse music environment
Learning an instrument shouldn't just be about "practice, practice practice" (this one song for example). Give your child many different possibilities to engage in music like:
making Spotify, CDs, vinyl records available for them
going to live concerts
providing other learning materials like apps, printables and books
supporting interest in artists by getting music magazines or fan merchandise
This way your child doen't see music as just something they have to practice. It becomes more of a fun lifestyle.
5. Give structure and routines
Have you ever started a new hobby and quickly started dropping it? You always wanted to go to painting lessons but very quickly other things became more important?
What's difficult for us adults is also difficult for children: keeping a routine. Make sure your child has a structured day, including school, homework, meal times, other hobbies, friends and of course music. A structured practice routine (for example daily, 3x/week, always after dinner) also has huge benefits on their learning and memory progress.
6. Remember it's for them
Your child's music class is for your child. It is not for you to show off with your kid's great abilities on the instrument and it is not about you thinking that "learning music is good for XY(whatever)". Listen well to why your child wants to go to music class, why they want to learn a certain instrument, what artists they are interested in, where they struggle and notice when they have a particularly good time. This is when you know you are doing a good job as a parent and can be proud of yourself.
7. Focus on the fun
Music lessons, like everything else people do, should have the goal of happiness and enjoyment. Choose a teacher that understands that every child is different. Ask your child yourself what's fun about music. If they can not tell you yet try to notice, when they have a good time, be it in music class or at home. Is it when they really need to give it all they've got to learn a piece and finally master it? Is it when they go to a very easy but engaging group activity? As long as a child has fun with it, they will continue liking and pursuing music.
8. Find musical friends
Like for us adults, it is also enriching for children to have friends with the same hobbies. Knowing that you can exchange thoughts with a likeminded person gives a feeling of belonging. Knowing other children that make music can also lead a child to greater engagement in practicing more, being interested in other kinds of music or wanting to play with others.
9. Engage in music together
Especially in their early years children are so connected to you as a parent. You are their number one person to look up to and spend their time with. If you already show excitement for your kid's new hobby perfect. Now show it by doing something musical with them!
Ask them to play something for you, help them when they struggle to practice, buy them music and tell them about your music interests. Young kids suck up everything you throw at them (be sure you do it in a not-pressuring way though). Sometimes it will take some time until your influence shows, but be assured: Doing these things has a positive influence on your child's attitude to music.
10. Be supportive
Always care for your child as an individual person with their own interests, fears and goals. That means really tuning in with their emotional state and trying to support them on their musical way. Learn to give good feedback that is not demoralising but constructive. Give them the space to learn while encouraging to try new things and most of all: Celebrate the successes!
Sources and Links
Photo 1 from Pexels
Photo 2 from Pexels
How can I find more music activities?
Find more ideas for music games, note sheets and useful printables on our website: https://www.paupa.org
Private Music School in Palma de Mallorca
You want private music lessons for your child? Visit us in our music school in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, where we offer piano lessons, guitar lessons, ukulele lessons, singing lessons, music introduction and more.