It’s a new year! Whether you make New Years’ resolutions or not, it’s hard not to feel some sense of anticipation of what may lie ahead.
Truthfully, I'm sad that all the spiced cookies are gone for a while... but I am looking forward to a nice, long stretch of lessons and largely uninterrupted time (no holidays!!) to dig into some fun music and key skills with each of my students. What are you looking forward to?
As you jump back into lessons with your musician, I’d like to share a few tips on how to support the transition.
1. Re-establish your practice routine.
While we don’t want to do the “same old thing” in every practice session, we do want to have practicing sealed into our daily routine.
- Outline a weekly schedule for this new year with your musician… what does your average week look like, and when will you plan to practice each day? When is your vacation day? How will things flex when the schedule flexes? Remember: a good rule of thumb (unless you’ve been playing for less than a year) is that you should practice at least as long as the length of your lessons… although quality is WAY better than quantity.
- Involve your musician in the scheduling conversation to help them establish ownership over their routine. Depending on how old they are they may or may not be ready for complete autonomy over their schedule. It’s a sliding scale. However, most kids would love to feel involved in the decision making. In fact, it helps them to develop ownership and confidence.
2. Get excited and set a goal.
Ask your musician what they look forward to when they play music. Do they have a particular piece they would really like to work towards? A technique they would like to learn? Is there someone (a classmate or otherwise) that inspires them to learn even more? Do they want to play in an ensemble some day? Ask them what they think they need to do in order to be able to reach those dreams. Talk to your teacher about them! Together, you can come up with a plan to turn those dreams into exciting, attainable goals.
3. Remember, it’s about the music!
As much as we all know that learning the violin can be challenging work -- and as parents you have a tough job to counsel and help motivate your musician (every day!) -- remember why we all do this. It’s not for the college applications down the road. It's not because science says it's good for our brains. It’s not even so our kid can play for Grandma when she visits.
Why, then, do we do this?? It’s because music feels good. It's fun. And, yes, it's even more funner when it’s really well done... but mostly, it’s fun. So during practice sessions, consider:
- Set the tone for a positive experience. It’s not just about learning this instrument, it’s about enjoying the music and the time you spend together making music. Endeavor to begin and end the sessions on a good note, giving kudos for genuine victories. When it's necessary to talk, ask open-ended questions and allow your musician to grow in their self-awareness and confidence.
- It may take some imaginative thinking to find things to compliment at first, but make a regular practice of letting your music maker know that you enjoy hearing them play… not just when they play perfectly. When we show that we take pleasure in their daily practice, they learn to enjoy the journey. This is important when learning any complex skill, and will give them confidence to push themselves farther and to try new things.
Last, but not least, give yourself grace and remember that you’re doing an amazing thing to provide music, not just for your child, but for your family. This is a gift that should be enjoyed like a gift, so stop and enjoy and say thank you once in a while. :)