For parents and kids alike, the back to school season can be a stressful time. It’s a time for new responsibilities, new routines and new activities – and sometimes simply getting back into the swing of things takes some preparation! If music lessons are part of the mix this year, consider making family life a lot easier with a few preemptive actions:
– Lock down your schedule.
Most kids respond well to consistent schedules, so use a calendar to ensure everyone knows what activities are expected each day. This includes both lessons and practice times! Also, consider including a rewards system as part of the schedule; for example, when your son’s Tuesday piano lesson is over, encourage him to add a star to the calendar. If he practices for 30 minutes after the lesson, add another star. He’ll be able to see his progress and make the connection to consistent practicing and hard work.
– Set expectations for practicing.
Sometimes, a busy schedule may mean choosing between bass guitar or baseball. If you leave this decision up to your child, make sure he or she knows the expectations that will be set. For example, do you expect him to continue his lessons through the end of the school year? Will he need to set aside practice time on Saturday morning before playing outside? Be firm with your expectations, and make sure everyone is on the same page.
– Stay organized.
Don’t get caught at your teacher’s studio without all of the essentials! Everything your child needs for her music lessons (pencils, sheet music, practice journal, and of course, her instrument) should stay organized in one area. If your child is especially forgetful, consider creating a checklist and posting it on the door.
– Befriend your child’s music teacher.
Starting music lessons for the first time – especially with a new, unfamiliar teacher – can be a scary experience for some children. Most teachers encourage parents to sit in on at least the first few lessons, which will help ease the anxiety, and also allows you to get a feel for their teaching style. Communication is key, for everyone involved! Your instructor may have the music expertise, but ultimately you know your child best. If you’re worried that your daughter is losing interest because of the repertoire involved, for example, talk to her teacher about adjusting the material.
– Don’t forget the practice journal.
A practice journal can be an incredibly valuable tool, when both student and teacher are using it effectively. Sit down with your child and review the journal each week; encourage her to share what she thinks she did well, what she should work on, and what the next step is. It may not be clear at first to her, but as she progresses and gets older, she’ll be comfortable with the process of setting and reaching goals.