Parents, you know that your child’s likes, dislikes, and interests can change at the drop of a hat. Maybe your toddler started by banging on your pots and pans on the kitchen floor, and went on to develop a strong affinity to rhythm-making in the years that followed – so much so that you took the plunge, bought a drum set, and enrolled your little Dave Lombardo into private drumming lessons. You’ve put up with a lot of loud after-dinner practice sessions, then fewer, and fewer, until you heard: “I want to quit playing the drums.”
Even if there’s a part of you yearning for a quiet home life, what’s the right thing to do? How should a supportive parent handle the issue of quitting ahead of mastering a musical skill? Is it okay to let your tween give up on something simply because it’s getting increasingly difficult? Or should you force them to continue playing the drums purely because you’re against the concept of quitting? Or because you understand the benefits of drums for kids that your aspiring rock star will thank you for later? Let’s explore a few suggestions you could consider if you find yourself wanting to encourage your child to keep playing the drums…
Talk to Your Child
When you hear moans and groans about practice (or no drum practice at all), it’s time to start doing your own investigation. Your first stop should be your child. Talk to them about why they feel like quitting, in a relaxed environment – perhaps take them on a low-key ice cream date. When it comes to quitting drums for kids there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, because every little rock star has his or her own personality and musical sensibility. Try to figure out the underlying reasons for this new lack of interest by asking a few questions:
- Why do you feel like quitting?
- Are you finding lessons too difficult?
- What exactly are you finding difficult?
- Do you want to play another instrument perhaps?
- Are you interested in trying out a different hobby altogether?
The most common response is perhaps hitting a roadblock with a particular beat or area of rhythm development. This, however, can be addressed with our next suggestion.
Chat With Your Child’s Drumming Instructor
Having a conversation with your child’s drumming instructor (without your child around) can help you gain insight into what’s happening during lessons. Be honest with the teacher about your child’s lack of interest or desire to quit; the odds are that they have probably noticed a behavior change by now anyway. By addressing this as a team, you can both give special attention to the area that your kid is possibly struggling with – maybe they can spend more time on it in class and you can offer positive reinforcement around it when your child practices at home.
If in your initial conversation with your child, their response was related to their instructor, then be sensible when you address this issue. Perhaps discuss technique or teaching methodology in relation to what you know about your child’s learning style and personality. Remember that while you are not an expert on drums for kids, you do know your child best and can offer suggestions about the best way to encourage him or her. There should be a team effort from all the adults involved, as well as the child in terms of extra effort.
Get Inspired Together
Make a deliberate effort to expose your kid to great drumming – even better if it somehow relates to drums for kids or teenagers. Go to concerts or experience a few fun workshops, perhaps; do whatever you need to do to get those hands and feet tapping again! You can get really out of the box here by even doing a family djembe drumming workshop or something similar. Another great idea is to do some homework on YouTube. Try finding a few awesome drum tutorials online or solos performed by kids at a similar age to your child. Watching these clips together may inspire your little drummer to get back at it! This combination of formal drum lessons for kids with a dash of fun or social drumming could be just the thing your child needs.
Change Up the Music
Consider learning more about the kinds of beats your child gravitates toward. He or she might have a flair for something you may not be familiar with; you can then listen to the music together in the car or at home, which will keep your child excited and inspired. You can also try chatting with your child’s drumming instructor about finding a way to work some of these pieces into a lesson a two.
Encourage Home Practice
After you’ve gone through some of these steps and your kid has agreed to stick to drumming lessons, it’s crucial that you create a positive atmosphere around home practice. Learning any musical instrument requires a high level of discipline, and practice must be placed in the mandatory section of your kid’s to-do list. It should fall under the same bracket as normal homework.
The parents of many a drumming legend have walked the same road you’re on today. Be patient and stay positive – it will be worth all the hard work and effort. Most people look back on music lessons fondly, even if they struggled at the time. Later on in life, your child will appreciate the extra push you gave to them!
Photo by Joseph Choi