Would you like to play a starring role in your children’s lessons? The best way to do this is by supporting and encouraging them. This post is to help you understand what’s going on each week so you’ll have a better idea of how to do that.
What’s the Method Behind the Homework?
Homework can be confusing if you don’t know what’s happening. Your children always come home with songs to practice, and sometimes they’re brand new songs … but sometimes they’re songs from the previous week. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Is there a method to the homework?
There is indeed, and it’s really quite simple. Whether or not children get a new song is determined by their progress with previous learning. If they’ve made good progress with the skills and concepts, we move on to new ones. If they still need to work to get solid, we keep going.
The Basis of Learning
When we assign your child a song to practice, we’re looking for a few important things to happen. These include the mastering of concepts, developing confidence and abilities, and gaining more self-discipline.
1. Mastering Concepts
Each week, our teachers introduce students to new terms or concepts. The assigned songs help teach and reinforce these concepts during the week; each lesson builds upon what the child has learned.
2. Attaining Confidence
It can take a lot of confidence to play in front of your music teacher and not be so nervous that it affects your playing. So we teach our students to relax and do the best that they can. It’s great practice for speaking or acting … or doing anything in public.
3. Reaching High
We set high standards for our students yet strive to set goals that are achievable for each one. In our experience, there’s nothing like a feeling of success to encourage them onward. Perfection is not, in fact, our goal.
We work with students so they’re able to play music at a level that’s personally satisfying — and this almost always includes mastery of concepts and skills. Is the music self-expressive and personally satisfying? A beaming, successful child is our goal.
4. Gaining Discipline
The reason we require consistent practice is to teach discipline. Pursuing an instrument is a big responsibility (and a significant investment for parents), and we know that practicing every day leads to steady improvement. It also helps children grow towards being responsible, disciplined adults.
So, What’s a Parent’s Role in Music Lessons?
How much should you get involved? When do you push and when do you back off? Here are a few suggestions from a veteran teacher and mother:
Frazzled parents, don’t worry! The answer to “how involved should I get in my child’s practice?” is “not very much.” But, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure that your child is getting the most from his or her practice time.
First, encourage your child to work on all the components of their piece, especially their tempo and dynamics. It’s not okay just to get the notes right. Their music should be expressive. Each piece has a marking such as, “lively,” “with zip,” or “peacefully,” for example. Your child should try to create a feeling using these markings, as well as the title of the piece, as their guide. Ask them how they want you to feel when you hear them play the piece.
Dynamics! Each piece is filled with them, and a child should be practicing their dynamics all week long. It’s easy for a teacher to tell when a child tries to “add them in” on lesson day…it doesn’t work. If every piece sounds like it’s being played at the same volume, then your child probably isn’t practicing their dynamics.
Most of these suggestions do not require much time on your part. It can be as simple as listening from another room and calling out a comment or question every so often. Most importantly, your children need to know that you care and support them.”
Author Cecilia Rowe is the founder and director of the Music Studio Atlanta and director of Courtnay and Rowe. She has over 25 years in music education as an instructor and local business owner.