Parents, hopefully you have noticed something new around the home this week – your child’s instrument!
“Be Our Guest, Be Our Guest….”
Please offer a warm welcome to the instrument instead of saying to your child, “It’s about time you brought the thing home!”
Now that the instrument will be coming home on a [hopefully] regular basis, the first point of advice I will offer you: DON’T RUSH THE PROCESS! [NOTE: I’m not yelling at you, despite the all-caps and bold print. I’m just very excited. Let’s press on.]
The teacher knows that you have been eagerly awaiting the instrument’s arrival home. He/she has planned very carefully in preparation for this moment. Now that the instrument has made its triumphant entry into your home, avoid the temptation of having your child fully assemble the instrument and “start playing songs.”
[NOTE: There are two classes that are the “exception to the rule”: Double Reeds and Percussion. If your child is a double reed player [oboe or bassoon], chances are they are already playing on the full instrument in class because you can only do so much with a reed. Just ask him/her to “crow” on the reed for 30 seconds…you’ll see what I mean fast!
Percussionists have been on the practice pad since the first week of school (overachievers….). He/she should be able to play a few exercises, but nothing you would recognize as a “song.” You will have to wait until they start working on mallet instruments.]
The teacher has your child playing on smaller parts of the instrument up to this point to guarantee a quality start and good experience on the instrument.
We [teachers and students] are aware that you are putting money into renting the instrument but trust the teacher. They have a job for a reason!
“We Talkin’ ‘bout Practice, Man….”
Your child may be asked to practice only 10 minutes a day at the start. If this is the case, hold him/her accountable during Practice Time. As you know, 10 minutes goes by in an instant, so please ensure 10 uninterrupted minutes! This will establish good practice habits in the future. If your child can be on a phone or video game for an hour without distraction, 10 minutes on an instrument will be a breeze!
True, 10 minutes does not seem like enough time right now but remember: DON’T RUSH THE PROCESS! [NOTE: Still not yelling at you… that was just a reminder. ☺] Your child will begin to practice for longer periods of time as they begin to play on more pieces of the instrument.
The 2 best ways to guarantee a good experience during the 10-minute Practice time are as follows:
- Don’t force your child to practice: If you force your child to practice the instrument, it will quickly become seen as a form of punishment. This will have a negative effect on the way your child views the instrument and the class. Practice Time will be a chore instead of a reward.
- Set up a successful environment: You can set your child up for success by establishing a specific Practice Time schedule. At this point in the school year, practicing the instrument will be the easiest “assignment” your child will bring home from school. Have him/her practice as soon as they arrive home. If your child waits until after snacks, watching TV, getting on the Internet, playing video games, extracurricular activities, homework, or watching 85 stories on Snap Chat (goodness…) – the desire to practice the instrument will not be as strong and the quality of Practice Time will suffer.
Overall, understand that it will take time for your child to learn the instrument. If you rush him/her ahead of the teacher, then you could unknowingly hinder your child’s progress on the instrument. Trust the teacher. Don’t rush the process. If you do those two things, your investment into the instrument will pay off.
Again, welcome your new guest into the home with open arms and be patient. Hopefully, the instrument will be in the family for the rest of your child’s life.
“Proceed as if success is inevitable.” - Unknown