Motivation Methods for Budding Musicians
My last post, "Why your child isn't practicing - and how to change that!", looked at the different obstacles that can prohibit practice time. Once you begin to understand why your child isn't practicing, the next issue that often crops up is: HOW do I encourage them to practice.
The most important piece of information I want you take away from this post is:
The teacher inside of me would love to see students practicing a minimum of 30-40 minutes a day, and for that practice time to extend as they progress. However, I know that this is not a realistic goal (generally). Children have an abundance of commitments (especially homework!) and after school activities, not to mention the amount of running around parents have to do, too. The thing to remember is: any practice is better than no practice at all.
HOW do we encourage and motivate children to practice? Self-motivation is the end goal, but in the meantime, lets help them out!
Practice Charts/Sticker Charts
Use a table, or any kind of tool that will create a framework for stickers (Pinterest is full of sticker charts) . For every 10/20/30 minutes of practice completed, place a sticker on the chart. Let the child choose which sticker they want, and encourage them to place it on the chart themselves. Its exciting for them and makes the effort put in worth while! Once they receive a certain number of stickers, they get a reward.
Pom Poms in a Jar
Purchase or recycle a glass jar. Create an arts and crafts activity with your child where they get to decorate their practice jar how they want. This is an empowering experience for them as it creates a sense of responsibility. For every 10 minutes they practice, they get to put a pom pom/glass stone/marble in the jar. Once the jar is full, they can trade it for a reward.
Flowers in a Vase
This is very similar to the 'pom poms in a jar' tool. Decorate a vase, and for every 10/20 minutes of practice they do, they get to put a flower (real, plastic or paper) into their decorated vase. Once they have a predetermined number of flowers in the vase, they get a reward.
This is a method that I have seen a number of my students use, and it works very well! As the parent, you encourage your child to practice for a certain number of minutes, and in return they get the same amount of time on the iPad/computer/xbox/playstation etc. This tool works well for young adolescents, too.
Teacher Role Play
Let your child pretend to be the teacher and take you for a lesson. This not only reinforces what they have learnt during the week, but its fun, creative and encourages them to use their imagination.
This one works well for adolescents. Pre-purchase some small gifts (treats, gift vouchers, movie tickets, make-up etc.) or ask them to provide you with a wish list. Wrap up or place each of the gifts in a gift bag, and when your teenager has completed a predetermined amount of practice, reward them with one of the gift bags. Who doesn't like presents after all?
- screen time
- arts and craft time
- later bedtime for one night a week (brilliant reward for teens!)
Use your child's personality and interests to guide you on what to use as their rewards.
Things to keep in mind...
- Once you have rewarded your child, don't threaten to take it away (even if it is just a sticker on their practice chart). They worked hard for that, and it can be extremely demotivating for them to think that their reward is just going to be taken away no matter how hard they work.
- Once you choose a method, stick to it! Keep them excited about the prospect of another sticker or pom pom. These motivation tools will only work for as long as you encourage them.
Motivating Teens is a whole other ball game. I would suggest sitting down with them and asking them what they feel is an appropriate amount of time to practice is, and how they think they would like to be rewarded for practice. Encourage them to be a part of the decision making. This creates a sense of responsibility which should result in them being less likely to rebound and refuse.
Motivation can be difficult for us all to find at some point or another. Be creative and think outside of the box! If you have any tools that you like to use, please share them with us by commenting below!