Parents can make a huge difference to how well a student progresses on their instrument through encouragement and taking an interest in what they are doing.
Helping your child practice
Help your child to choose a regular time in the day as their 'practice' time.
Pick a room in the house to be their practice room where they:
- will not be distracted
- won't disturb the rest of the house and the neighbours
Encouragement and praise is so important. Jokes about "wailing cats" or "putting it out of its misery" can be really off-putting. Parents and friends are often surprised at how playing improves after only a few weeks.
Check and sign their practice diary every week to find out what your child should be working on.
If you have little knowledge of music or playing an instrument, you can ask their instrumental teacher for help via the practice diary, or you can contact Thurrock Music Services.
: 01375 413 681
How long each practice session should last will depend on 3 things:
- your child's age
- the instrument
- the standard they have reached
The teacher will suggest a minimum time and number of sessions per week. Any time spent practising over this minimum will be a bonus. Quality and regularity of practice are more important than quantity.
If an advanced student is recommended to practise for an hour a day this does not have to be done in one go. Two half-hour sessions is perfectly fine.
Practising for too long can be negative and harmful to the student.
Encouragement and supporting development
Encourage your son or daughter to join a band, orchestra or other musical ensemble. This will teach them a lot more about their instrument and will develop their all-round musicality. It helps with their sight-reading, encourages them to listen and play in tune and in time with others. It improves stamina and performance skills and introduces them to new, like-minded students.
These ensemble sessions should be in addition to – but not replace – the regular practice your son or daughter should be doing. Find out more on our ensembles web page or in your child's practice diary. Taking your child to and from ensemble rehearsals is a big investment in your time but it will pay dividends in the future.
Take them to concerts where they can hear professional musicians performing to a high standard. This will hopefully inspire them to greater things.
Encourage your son or daughter to take advantage of any performance opportunities offered by their school or the Thurrock Music Education Hub. Praising their efforts after their performance will mean a lot to them.
After time your child will benefit from having their own instrument. You should consult your child's tutor, however, before buying anything.
Cheap instruments can actually hinder progress. Buying a second hand instrument may be better than brand new. Find out about the assisted musical instrument purchase scheme.
The purchase of a good music stand will be a good investment. It's also a good idea to keep a stock of accessories for instruments such as:
- spare strings for violins, cellos, guitars, and so on
- spare reeds for clarinets, oboes and bassoons
- valve oil for brass instruments
Your child's music teacher will also recommend tutor books. These can be ordered from local music shops or off the internet.
Pupils will progress at different rates so comparison with peers is not always constructive. Don't worry if progress is slow, especially at the start.
Your child's teacher will recommend them for an exam when they feel the time is right. If a child is pushed into an exam too early, this can be a very negative experience. Taking exams can also take time away from learning technical skills on an instrument.
Be prepared to accept the teacher's advice even if it means waiting a little longer before they are entered for an exam. Find out more about music exams.