Play Play Play Campaign!

Footprints Music – Play Play Play Campaign

What’s the number one question asked to us by our parents? Yep, it’s “How do I get my child to practice?” We are parents too and we have the same struggles with practicing at home as you might so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to start a Practice Campaign. Below are a list of idea you can try to help your child achieve maximum efforts! We are going to have videos, articles and other experts let us know how to motivate, inspire and coach your child into wanting to practice on their own. Here’s our top ideas to implement into your family –

  • #1 Make playing a daily part of your family routine- We know with soccer, dance, hockey, gymnastics, art and other family activities it’s tough to schedule time to play. It’s easier when part of your daily flow than trying to fit it in. Find the best time to practice and then stick to it. Start with scheduled practices but then try and have it part of a routine like brushing your teeth.
  • #2 Limit saying the word “practice”.  Easier said than done however we called this a “Play Play Play campaign” because the word play is more effective. Our 8-year-old rolls her eyes when we ask her to practice. When we ask he to play her piano she’s more interested. “Practice” can be synonymous with “homework” to many kids. Ask your budding Mozart to play their piano, violin or guitar and see if you get better results.
  • #3 Set Goals and actions to reach those goals – A goal could be, “learn 2 songs by June”, “play at the recital” or “try to work through 2 difficult bars”. It doesn’t have to be monumental. Have a calendar available to write in the deadline. Depending on how difficult the goal is show your acknowledgement of the effort. Many of our students play sports where the goals are easy laid out for children – Score a goal, get a faster time or complete a routine. For music goal setting is just as important and the action steps even more so. An action step could be, “I will play my instrument 4 times a week” or “I will practice this 2 bar phrase 10 times on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday”. The steps should be easy to understand and accomplish. “I want to be a rock star” is a great goal so let’s see those actions steps to get there! If she’s having trouble coming up with realistic action steps then set the bar lower. “I want to be a rock start for the family concert next week” might be attainable!
  • #4 Set up a Family Concert – Book a weekly, bi weekly or Monthly concert for family. Give it a name too – Like “Sarah’s opus night” or “Jack’s music extravaganza” Make it fun and an event not to miss!  Have other families join in the fun.
  • #5 Practice with your child – Obviously age appropriateness is needed here (13-year-old boys aren’t to keen on mom ‘sitting in’) but sometimes knowing that you’re listening can help a child. Even an ear from another room with encouragement can be helpful. Be careful not to take over the lesson when things go awry. Coach and encourage rather than solve their problem. They have to figure it out!
  • #6 Encourage and coach instead of Nagging – To continue from that last tip learning an instrument can be frustrating. A lack of practice could be because the song is challenging and your little one is intimadated. Suggest your daughter play her violin piece in small sections. Emphasize the good parts and ask what she thinks.  Here are some encouraging phrases – “I love listening to you play the guitar”, “How’s that piece coming along? Anything I can do to help?”, “play me your favourite song”, “The trumpet has never sounded better!”, “ I am amazed at your progress in playing. The hard work is paying off”. Encouragement when they’re not playing is helpful too.
  • #7 Have your child to teach you what they learned – In many ways I learned more teaching music than I did playing. Having your child teach you their instrument can be fun and a challenge. They might have an “aha” moment about their own playing. And you get a free lesson!
  • #8 Make a “practice” play date – Friends playing together can be a great way to play with others and make them better players! While it might be challenging if both players are playing different instruments and/or they’re not at the same level letting the kids figure that stuff out is half the fun!
  • #9 Quantity over a Timer – Playing a bar, piece or scale a number of times  can be more valuable that playing for 10-30 minutes. If your child isn’t into practicing all he will do is “clock watch’ when forced o play for 30 minutes – and you will hear that famous refrain, “Has it been 30 minutes yet?” Try an age appropriate quantity approach like a 2 line piece could be played 5 times a day for a 5-year-old. (Note: if 10-30 minutes a day is working for your child don’t change it!) The more they play the better they will get.
  • #10 Leave the instrument out – As soon as your child gets in the door from their lesson have them take their instrument out. Having an appropriate stand so that it’s not in the way or going to get ruined can ease any worry about untidiness. Even a digital piano stored in a closet is cumbersome to take out and the difference between playing and not playing. Find what works best but if a child has the choice of taking their guitar out of the case (as easy as that is) and not she will chose not to.
  • #11 Revisit older songs – While we all want to improve on our instrument sometimes playing the songs we love is practice enough. A reminder of why we like the instrument can come through some of the older songs. You might want to watch for avoiding a new song or piece over playing the older stuff but playing the old songs does build confidence to move forward.
  • #12 Inspire your child – Find live music that your child likes or dust off a cd/mp3 of the stuff you like. It’s the holidays look for some caroling around the city. Go on Youtube and find some great live performances or videos.

There’s no order of importance here! Every one of these can be used and used multiple times. Check back for more suggestions as these are just the tip of the iceberg. Share with us what works in your family!

Related but Unrelated – I love 2 minute rule to get more playing done. Also here’s a Girl Learns To Dance In A Year video to inspire your family about practicing. Read the description on how and what she did to achieve her goal.

And remember PLAY PLAY PLAY.




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