For five days straight, I tried to get my stepson to practice the drums.
Oh dear god, it was like pulling teeth. And since I run a songwriting school for a living, I was mortified - after all, this is my job.
But within a few days, he was rockin' his drum part like a little Dave Grohl.
Mammas and pappas, I feel your pain. Parents flock to my school Free Spirits Music, desperate for coaching around getting their kids to practice at home.
I've spent some time exploring the psychology of practicing and what I've realized is: it starts with you.
And so, I present to you...
THE BUSY PARENT'S GUIDE:
HOW TO GET YOUR KID TO PRACTICE
1. Practicing has got to be fun.
You want your kid to have fun, right? You want them to love music, right? The enthusiasm starts with you. If you got none, they got none. Apartment Therapy and Metro wrote about the ways to make practice fun.
2. Stop making your kid wrong.
Your kid will avoid practicing at all costs. Just like you avoid working out at all costs (not always, but someeeeetimes, right?!!). It’s really hard to develop the willpower and stamina to learn a new skill and stretch your mind. Be the example and show your kid how fun it is to learn something new.
3. Get specific about what you want them to do.
Sorry, but “just go practice” is irresponsible parenting. It leaves your kid without any clear goals or time line. What I suggest is that you ask them to verbally confirm exactly what song (or part of their song) they will practice and set a timer. Having a clear time to complete the practice will disappear fatigue and frustration.
4. Quit punishing them.
Don’t you love being bullied? Me too! Actually, no. You don’t want your kid to dread playing music. Change your attitude - take a deep breath, remind them you love them, and set aside time to do it with them rather than “teach them a lesson” and force them to do it themselves. NPR writes about this, too. Give your little one conditions of satisfaction: "I need you to practice this 4 times in the next 3 minutes. Go!"
5. See Rule #1.
Look closely, grasshopper. Every rule is basically a variation on Rule #1. If you need to go take a yoga class or brush up on your own piano skills to get happy and chill out, you should do it. Kids learn how to be powerful in difficult situations by watching you cope with your own emotions.
Are you ready to start practicing at home? Try this.
I have a customized daily practice checklist for you to use with your little one, and it's unlike anything you've ever seen before. Click the button below to grab a copy.