Students of all ages are busier than ever, with a myriad of activities in their weekly schedules: from basketball, volleyball & tennis practice, swimming lessons, music lessons, religions events, sleepovers with friends & visiting family members… the list goes on, and we know a lot of our students here at NAMS find themselves in seasons of absolute exhaustion, whether age 5 or age 15.
So how can we help them succeed, as well as keep their love for music alive in the midst of it all?
It’s no secret that habits & practices at home are some of THE biggest determiners of success in anyone’s life, so starting with assessing our current practice habits is a good place to start. Here are some key points on helping make practice time more efficient, to making it fun again if it’s hard to make happen NOW.
Level of Involvement
- I have found that parent involvement is absolutely crucial for my students from age 3 to 10. You might need to sit alongside them & do exercises with them! So ask your instructor about what they’re supposed to work on & how you can help if you’re student is having a hard time knowing what to do when they get home.
- For my preteen & teens, if they’re confident in knowing what they’re supposed to be working on, giving some space can be the best road… BUT checking in & asking them to explain what they’re practicing helps them recognize the reason for their work, & helps you stay in the loop!
- Our students are busy kids, and I cannot count the amount of times I’ve had students come in on a weekly basis with X reason for why they weren’t able to practice this week. It’s hard – I’ve been there! So making an active effort to SCHEDULE practice time within the week just like events can be a total game changer, even if it’s literally 5-10 minutes a day. Options such as 10 minutes before/after dinner, or practicing as soon as you get home can help get it done, and minimizes practice being the last item on the neverending to-do list!
Quality Over Quantity
- 5-10 minutes of focused energy is always better than 30+ minutes of distracted time. I can’t emphasize this enough! Daily practice is so much better than cramming it all in on one day.
- Like the scheduling points above, some students need some external incentives like rewards to motivate them. Making it a rule to practice X amount of minutes before getting to play a video game or getting dessert can help. You can also create a system for long-term rewards, such as a trip somewhere if they practice X amount of hours. Performing can also gear up students to practice, so be sure to consider our Monthly Open Mics as an option!
- Recognize & relax in knowing that your student might fall in & out of love with practicing – whether it’s due to exhaustion from school & other activities, changing interests, or just needing new goals and incentives. What worked at age 7 might not work at age 8, so going on autopilot can really wreck a student’s growth, especially if they need more encouragement than usual at certain times.
Seek Out Advice
There are tons of resources out there about the best ways to do things, but it’s hard to find the ones that are actually good & trustworthy. So where else to look?
- Ask other NAMS Parents on our NAMS Family Facebook Page! You can always post a question to other parents & see what best habits work for them, and other recommendations!
- Notify your NAMS Instructor if current schedule/practice isn’t working, & ask if they have any recommendations. We want our students to succeed, & we know that this doesn’t just happen by lessons alone!
I hope this list helps you & your student(s) work towards even healthier habits for music & beyond!
-Morgan Wallace Tremillo