Acquiring Musical Skills • Music Exploration • Music Learning

August 2021

Ask Aureus: How To Help Your Child Practice Better At Home?

In today’s Ask Aureus, we are focusing on practice. We tackle one of the hardest questions on how to better motivate your child to continuously put effort into practicing music better.

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”
– Winston Churchill

Enrolling your child into a music school for children is a great start to forming a regular habit. Most music lessons for children, like Aureus Academy, are held weekly and cultivate good music playing habits. However, after some time, you may realise that your child’s interest in learning to play the piano is waning. At times refusing to go for lessons or their focus drifting away 10 minutes into the 30-minute lesson and on to the next new and fun thing. So, how exactly can we go about instilling the habit of practice in them?

Strike that 10,000-hour practice rule, because it has been proven that long hours does not mean proven success in performance! Some studies prove that a new niche type of practice called deliberate practice helps improve results significantly. While that may prove to work tremendously with teenagers and adults, we do not think it may be as effective as it could be for young children.

Here are six ways on how you can help your young one practice music better at home, cultivate interest in learning music and love the process of doing so!

Creating the perfect atmosphere

Rent or buy a piano. Find a dedicated practice area for your child. This will help prepare them mentally for practice. Different children learn and thrive in different conditions. To allow them to enter the right mindset for practice, choose a quiet room or somewhere with more stimulation, like a certain room in the house or just a corner in the living room. It will take some time before you find the perfect space for practice at home.

Setting up the practice area

One way to ensure your child settles down fast for music practice is to have everything they will need close by: water, score sheets, musical textbooks, pencils, erasers, and more. Less searching, less distractions and more time for quality practice. Technology now plays an immense role in music learning for children. Downloading essential applications like metronomes, tuners, worksheets and timers help assist in a smoother learning experience.

Warming up to practice

Engaging your child in a physical warm-up before playing their music instrument is essential too. Many musicians start with some physical stretches and breathing exercises before they pick up their instruments. Warm ups do not always have to be playing scales for 15 minutes! Take a shot at different technical studies or sight reading. And as a cool-down, revisit a piece of music you and your child already know well and enjoy.

Setting goals and mini-milestones

Setting small milestones for your child to accomplish for practice is helpful. Studies show that positive reinforcement is beneficial to performance-related progress. Just before it begins, take some time to think or ask about what your child would like to accomplish today. Feeling unsure about what you need to focus on? Reach out to your teacher for a few goals to work towards before the next lesson. Note them down so that your child can refer to them during their practice sessions.

Record and time their practice

Practice good musical habits. One way to highlight and correct mistakes during sessions is to record your child, and look back on it. Practice smart, not longer. Your child may probably achieve more in a shorter amount of time with a focused goal. Set a timer for five or 10 minutes to focus on a tricky part of the song, work on breaking the section down into even smaller and more manageable and workable bits. If it still troubles them, make a mental note to return to the section again.

Rewarding your child

Research from Cornell University (Woolley, 6 June 2018) shows that giving an immediate bonus for working on a task, rather than waiting until the end to reward them, largely increases the interest and enjoyment in the task. People who got an earlier bonus were more motivated to pursue the activity for its own sake and continued with the activity even after the reward was removed.

Remind and reward your child for putting in the effort and practice time! Rewarding hard work positively helps your child’s brain to automate good habits. When done right, your child adapts their behaviour until the new practice behaviour becomes the new normal.

“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”
― Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit

Take some time to find out what suits your child’s learning process the best. Be involved with their practice progress and celebrate small achievements. It is a great way to have some fun as a family as well.

At Aureus Academy, our highly educated and experienced music teachers believe in a first-hand one-to-one personalised music syllabus for every child. Taking every unique learning ability and learning styles into consideration, to create an engaging and enriching musical learning journey. Find out more about why you should enrol with Singapore’s leading music school for children today! Call us at +65 3158 5811 (10am-8pm) or click here to book a FREE TRIAL!

Alex Sarabi