How to Get Your Child to Practice. . .Without Resorting to Violence

Connie Sunday said: Oct 30, 2013
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

Love to get a critique on the following, posted to my studio page on Facebook. What would you change, add or omit:

Dear Valued Student/Parent:
Practicing is a key issue in developing students as musicians. Children normally will not do this on their own until they’re in their late teens. So it is up to teacher and parents to insist. There is a very useful book that parents find helpful; it is available on Kindle on You do not have to have a Kindle to read it, but can download it to your PC or laptop with the free software available on Amazon. I also have a copy in the studio, should you care to examine it:

How to Get Your Child to Practice. . .Without Resorting to Violence

My recommendations, based on behavioral modification, include the following:

  1. Develop a set time during the day when the student will spend 10 -20 minutes every day, with the instrument;
  2. Design a practice area for your child (or yourself) which includes a chair, their music stand, their music, and perhaps some decoration, like a mobile, posters, etc.;
  3. Remember that brushing teeth (for example), is not optional and neither is “spending some time with the instrument”;
  4. Slower is better: slow practice is much more effective than simply running through their week’s assignment without reflection;
  5. Most of my students have four or five books or printed materials to work on each week; please don’t feel that everything has to be practiced, every practice time, but rather, divide the materials up through the week (children will need help with this):
  6. Remember that Suzuki-inspired lessons are very different than the lessons most of us adults had: the student/parent/teacher triangle (the “Suzuki triangle”) means that everyone works together for the good of the child; parents should observe the lessons carefully (many take notes) and supervise the home practice. It’s not the same, at all, as the old “drop the student off and pick them up afterwards” type of study.

Watching your child develop into a good player is a great joy, and a great joy for teacher, too.

Let’s have a great year!!

Ms. Sunday

Boxwood Studios
Violin, Viola & Piano Lessons

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:

Celia Jones said: Oct 31, 2013
72 posts

Well, the title is deeply disturbing—how many parents resort to violence to get their children to practise?

Phankao said: Oct 31, 2013
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts
  • Try to bring some fun into the practising. Works for the very young.
  • Learn to break up a piece of work. Aim for quality and frequency.

That’s what works for me & my young one.

Sera Jane Smolen said: Oct 31, 2013
Sera Jane Smolen
Suzuki Association Member
Ithaca, NY
24 posts

In spite of the inappropriate title, this book has a number of good ideas in it.

I like to have a “practice marathon” at the beginning of each year. We look together at how each “triangle” is working, and find ways that each child can become a new practicer each year. We aim to cultivate gradations of independance each year, with each musician making more decisions.

We learn practice techniques, and name them. Over time each student has practice techniques in their “tool box”. When they are older they can identify a problem, and use a good practice technique to solve it.

For this I like my parents to read something new each year. Sometimes I like everyone to read the same book. I give the assembled parents a couple of questions to discuss during group class. Sometimes I arrange for them to borrow a book from my library then discuss their books freely during group class. This year I am sharing articles with them. There are so many possible themes for a practice marathon, and so much GREAT literature out there. You can supplement this book you have found so each family can learn just how to take these steps at home.

When we learn to truly hear the music of children,
we learn to hear the music of the future.
—Michael Deeson Barrow

Elise Winters said: Nov 1, 2013
Elise Winters
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Austin, TX
37 posts

The title is supposed to be funny, y’all!!

And, what the title gets at is, if you haven’t from time to time, been so mad you wanted to do inappropriate things to your child, you haven’t been a parent.

The idea is to acknowledge something we have all felt!! … normalize those feelings (we all have them!), and provide space for parents to be honest and talk openly, without judgment. That, along with the needed laughter, is the beauty of the title.

Celia Jones said: Nov 6, 2013
72 posts

I think, Connie was asking for comments, and while clearly some people find the title funny, others will find it upsetting. There are other books out there that have advice on practising, that don’t have alarming titles. I guess if you find it funny, you might not realise how upset someone else might feel, unless one of them said something.

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