Musically Motivate Your Child!

I ran across this post a while back and think it’s FABULOUS!  What a great bunch of ideas to motivate and encourage our children.  Go, parents!  You can do it!  You’re doing great things for your children and they WILL thank you  🙂


50 Ways to Musically Motivate a Child

Whether you want your child to be better about practicing, need to give them the confidence to not quit, or are looking to inspire your young musician, here are some ideas to get the results you want, all divided by category.

Motivating More Practicing
1. Use a sticker chart.
2. Put a marble or craft pom-pom in a jar for every 10 minutes practiced. Trade a full jar for a prize or treat.
3. Have a treasure chest and let them pick an item for each song passed.
4. Trade practice time for screen time (TV, computer, tablet, video games, etc).
5. Have them give you a lesson to reinforce new concepts.
6. Set a goal for number of days practiced each week.
7. Set a goal for number of minutes practiced each week.
8. Trade practice time for a later weekend bedtime.
9. Fill a jar with dollar bills and remove one for each day they don’t practice. They get what’s left over at the end of the week for allowance.
10. Let them choose their favorite song to play the last 5 minutes of practice time.
11. Let them play along with a recording of their pieces.
12. Print out a fun practice chart like the ones at Making Music Fun or design one yourself.
13. Have your child draw a picture to tell the story of each piece they are working on.
14. Let them pick an after dinner treat each day they practice.
15. Practice along side them and learn their songs with them.

Overcoming Pre-Recital Jitters
16. Play a concert for the stuffed animals.
17. Make a video of them playing and let them watch later.
18. Skype a concert for grandparents or other faraway friends and relatives.
19. Encourage them to play at family night.
20. Have a family talent show.
21. Entertain at a retirement home.
22. Practice the introductions and bows.
23. Go shopping and get a special new “performance” outfit.
24. Practice the piece at different times of the day to get over the novelty factor of recitals.
25. Practice, Practice, Practice- there is no substitute for feeling prepared!

Perfecting Songs Faster
26. Get a recording of the new piece and listen in the car.
27. Look up recordings of the piece and watch a variety of them.
28. Create a story to explain the different sections of the new piece.
29. Ask mood questions to get better emotion: how does this song make you feel? what color would this song be? what time of day does this song feel like?
27. Color code tempo and dynamic markings with colored pencils.
28. Make up words to the song.
29. Memorize the entire piece of even just a selection.
30. Add gentle movement that corresponds to the dynamic changes.
31. Listen to a recording and have the child conduct the music to get a better feel for it.

Making the Most of Practice
32. Use a metronome- EVERY SINGLE music student should have a metronome and be using it weekly.
33. Break the song into smaller chunks and practice each section individually.
34. Start with the hardest section first then work towards the easiest.
35. Play the piece at varying tempos.
36. Start playing slowly and gradually increase up to performance tempo.
37. Have a parent point at the notes as their being played to help the child learn to track better.
38. Designate a practice space that is quiet and find a time where there won’t be distractions.
39. Do all the suggested warm-ups to start every practice session (including scales). These are designed to build dexterity, flexibility, and endurance and kids will skip them if you let them.
40. Use a timer for practice sessions.

Instilling a Lifelong Love of Music
41. See a live performance. Every single music student should be seeing live performances at least twice a year. No exceptions.
42. Play a duet with them, even if you can only handle a stick and pot drum jam session.
43. Play music all the time, and play everything. Classical, classic rock, Latin, jazz, spiritual- everything.
44. Dance together, even if you both look silly.
45. Teach them how to conduct.
46. Sing in a choir- everyone should learn to use their built-in instrument.
47. Teach them the history behind the music they’re playing. What period is it from (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern)? When and where did the composer live?
48. Learn about master performers on your child’s instrument. For example, all my violin students should be learning about Heifetz, Perlman, Midori, and Joshua Bell.
49. Learn the history of the your child’s instrument. How old is it? What country did it originate from?
50. Love music yourself. Your child wants to emulate your enthusiasm.

Whether or not you agree with the overall philosophy, Amy Chua, in her book Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother, talks about the virtuous circle, or the idea is that kids need to see success in whatever they pursue so that they’ll want to pursue it to an even greater degree. She was spot on about this! The faster kids learn songs, perform at a high level, and receive praise for their success, the more motivated they will be to work harder and practice more effectively. Eventually, the child will learn to be self-motivated, and the parent can turn over the reigns of practicing, knowing that their child will use their time responsibly. What an essential life lesson!

This process depends entirely on you, the parent. It’s a great responsibility but also an enormous opportunity to prove your faith in your child.       Posted 15th April by Heather Hale


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