How To Support Your Child's Musical Education (Even If You're Not Musical Yourself)
Top Tip's For Supporting Your Child At Home
We are always so happy when a child decides they want to learn an instrument. We know the journey they are about to go on; the fun, opportunities, self fulfilment and discovery they are about to enjoy. There are so many benefits to learning an instrument and it truly is a wonderful thing to be able to share music with someone new. One question we are asked a lot is; how can I best support my child’s musical education at home? This can be particularly daunting if you yourself are not a musician, but fear not. We are hear to help.
SPOILER: The good news is, you don't need to be a musician to support your child’s musical education.
Learning an instrument requires dedication, commitment and practise at home. At Grooveline, we offer a ‘wrap around’ approach so that the learning doesn’t stop when the lesson time is over. We have loads of quick tips, mini lessons, blogs, live streams and more which you can check out on our social media. We also send home weekly lesson reports to let you know what we have learned, what to practise and any resources you can use. Parents/Guardians can e-mail any time during the week with any questions or queries they may have about their child’s musical education, and we run extra workshops such as choir club, band workshop, rhythm & percussion club, ukulele orchestra and more. We also have our very own podcast coming later this year which will be all about giving advice to parents about how to best support their child’s musical education. More on this soon!
We want to ensure that all pupils are able to maximise their learning time and reach their full, unlimited potential. We know how valuable it is for a pupil to have support and encouragement at home. It really makes all the difference and so we want to say a huge THANK YOU to all the parents, grandparents & carers who have put their faith into Grooveline and are helping us provide such great opportunities to so many young musicians.
It’s not just from our experience that we know how valuable your support and educational reinforcement at home is, in fact there’s a whole lot of scientific research too, which we wanted to share with you...
Learning a musical instrument can be the source of; great pride, boosted self-esteem and an increase in cognitive ability. As the parent or caregiver of an aspiring musician, you also can have a great positive impact on their musical development.
Research into motivation and music education explored the most common ways in which parents constructively support their children's musical development and the impact they had on learning outcomes. The learning outcomes included; enjoyment of music, motivation, self-esteem, self-efficacy and personal satisfaction with music lessons.
As with anything in life, there will be some natural peaks and dips along the way. This can be due to a wide range of factors. The important thing is that we keep trying out best and pushing to achieve more. In order to help keep your child’s enjoyment, motivation and inspiration levels high, we have compiled a list of top tips based on advice from music teachers and experts.
1. Be Their Biggest Cheerleader
The first step in any child’s musical development involves your encouragement and ongoing support. The great news is that this doesn’t require any musical training, only patience and enthusiasm.
You are your child’s first, most respected audience, and your opinion matters.
Being an active listener and showing a genuine interest; not only encourages your child to continue but can also build their self-esteem. Praising your child’s efforts rather than ability is an important distinction to make in the early stages of their development. The more they practice the better they’ll be, and receiving praise for effort is a more sustainable tactic than praise for ability!
No one is born with ready-made instrumental skills. Anyone who does have them, only got them one way - through practise and dedication. Research has found that if a child believes they are either talented or not talented, they are likely to associate any future struggles in learning music with a lack of talent, which can seem difficult to overcome. Associating any struggles as a proportional relationship with effort is a more successful way to achieve self-driven motivation in the long run. Remember, learning a new skill always takes time so patience from both parties is key.
Keep in mind that the impact of your praise may lessen overtime (especially when are child grows into a teenager) so it is also important to highlight the long term benefits of learning a musical instrument.
A ten year study found children who display medium and long-term commitment to an instrument practice more and demonstrate higher levels of musical achievement! Makes sense, right. Being a child’s best cheerleader is the first step to helping them achieve a long lasting & successful relationship with an instrument.
2. Talk About And Explore Music With Your Child Outside Of Lessons
In the famous words of August Rush “Music is all around us, all you have to do is listen."
Looking back at my own experience learning music as a child, I know that I probably didn’t practise as much as I should have for the first couple of years. Despite a lack of general motivation and effort, the thought of quitting the guitar horrified me. When interviewed, most famous or successful musicians begin their story with “My parents always played music at home..”. My experience was no different and in addition, my parents always praised other children who studied instruments and made music seem really cool! I would also have to thank Jack Black for making me really want to buy a Gibson SG and be just like Angus Young. We probably watched ‘The School of Rock’ over 100 times as a family. As a child, I always thought of music as a positive aspiration and that would be what ultimately lead me to pursue music for the rest of my life.
It may also be beneficial to discuss how much parental involvement your child would like. My parents did a great job of making music seem fun, cool and accessible, but they didn’t overwhelm me or make it seem like a chore either. Jonas G., the founder of lowkey has noted that “Motivating your child by reward or punishment will stop working very quickly; instead, help your child get curious about music and develop an inner desire to engage with music.”
By exploring and listening to music together “your child will naturally want to imitate you, so a big motivation for children to practice is seeing their parents engage with music themselves.”
3. Have Open And Honest Conversations With Music Teachers
A teacher who is able to nurture their students not only motivates them to practice but also helps them to become more engaged with lessons.
By promoting a good teacher – pupil relationship, learning and exploring music will become more fun and easier to understand. Additionally, don’t be afraid to communicate any concerns you may have about your child’s progress. This way you can strategise and personalise your child’s musical experience in a way which works best for their ability and learning style. That’s why we send weekly lesson reports home and we would encourage you to reply via email with any questions or queries you have.
We are here to help and we love hearing from you - we know that your involvement means that your child will progress more quickly.
4. Provide A Positive Home Environment For Practice
Self-motivation and discipline does not come naturally to all children. Whilst setting aside a specific time to practice may seem important, you also want to avoid practicing becoming an obligation.
Thinking of positive, engaging, and fun ideas to encourage your child to practice more often is key! With implementation of the earlier points, your child will start to want to practise by themselves, without requiring prompts from the parent/carer.
One suggestion is to plan performances with family and friends. Providing your child with an opportunity to perform throughout the year helps increase their enthusiasm and holds them accountable. They’ll want to impress their audience so they are more likely to practice often. That is also one of the main motivations behind our extra after school clubs and performance evenings & assemblies which we organise in partnership with schools. For a child to see the full cycle of; learn-practise-perform-improve, is extremely motivating for the child involved, and the children in the audience too.
Setting a goal or challenge for your child to achieve will help them progress faster. They’ll be more motivated to accomplish a specific task or accomplishment. Try to make this effort based. For example, it would be better to encourage 3 x 20 mins practise and effort, rather than a specific number of bars of music to learn - although both methods can have some success depending on the child.
Sometimes a reward system can work, but ideally the practice, fun, achievement and self fulfilment should be it’s own reward. As suggested by Why We Teach Piano “reward(ing) them with playtime or video games afterwards just reinforces the notion that playing piano is not fun and video games are fun.”
Take your child’s feelings into consideration too! There is nothing wrong with negotiating over practising issues within the parameters set by the teacher.
Every child is unique and if you already have a fantastic relationship with the instrument, motivation & practise, then keep doing what you are doing! If you are daunted by the idea of supporting a music education as a non-musical parent, then hopefully after reading this, you are starting to feel better. None of the advice above requires you to be a concert pianist, it just requires encouragement and support.
As always, if you have any questions or wish to discuss this top further then please feel free to get in touch! We are always happy to help. Once more, THANK YOU for supporting your child’s musical education and putting your faith into Grooveline! We won’t let you down.
Follow us on social media for regular tips, updates & advice @groovelinemusiceducation
If you would like to see how Grooveline could work with YOUR school to provide accessible, inclusive and holistic music programmes, please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.