Most kids quit music lessons.
It’s a fact, and parents don’t just fear it, they expect it. And they should – children, when presented with a long-term challenge with mixed results and few immediate rewards, will beg to quit. It’s just not fun. And what parent wants to spend years and years dragging their kids around to something that they absolutely hate?
Some kids don’t quit, though. And research has attempted to find links between talent and engagement, or economic status, or technology. However, the findings from the studies from across North America came back with some rather unexpected results. Simply put, it comes down to engagement and motivation. Parents, teachers, and schools that create numerous and consistent opportunities to engage and reward their students (and their parents), had dramatically higher ‘stick’ rates than those that didn’t.
So if you’re a parent who has a son or daughter, and you’re already having problems keeping them interested in music, here are 5 things that research has taught us, that you can put into practice right away. Because finding a way to keep your children in music is vitally important – because, of course, there’s even more research that proves that music dramatically enhances brain development, longevity, and overall cognition levels.
There is no better ‘brain boost’ than music, so figuring this out is absolutely worth it.
We all take cues from our friends and peers. If we’re doing something that our friends think is cool, or they are also doing it, we feel validated and a sense of belonging. If we’re spending time on an activity that our friends don’t understand, or can’t connect with, most people will disengage.
For young music students, the same principle applies. If they can connect with other people their same age, who are also learning or experiencing music, then it helps them to feel like they are doing something relevant and ‘normal’.
Tip: Find local choirs, bands, ensembles, or schools that encourage ensemble-based performance or learning is a great way to create this social dimension. If they also form friendships with these people, the draw to maintain the music will become even stronger.
Most life-long musicians, whether amateur or professional, will have a story about who inspired them to play. Maybe it was a famous rockstar. Maybe it was an uncle or cousin. But nearly always there is someone who inspired them to play – a musical “hero”. We all need heroes, and when you can attach music to some far-off goal or ideal, it’s incredibly inspiring.
Tip: If there are bands or musicians that both you and your child like, see if a concert or another live event is an option. Or take some time to suggest highly-regarded musicians that are consistent with your son or daughter’s tastes.
One of the biggest disconnections with music lessons and young people is that most teachers and schools don’t give real-life ways to use the skills they’ve learned. To most kids, an exam, or a recital with a few relatives isn’t enough a good enough reason to learn a very difficult skill. It would be like learning a sport like soccer or hockey, but all you ever do is practice with your coach, and then do a skills competition once a year. No one would play hockey.
Tip: Find times and places where your kids and share their music with others, or with each other. Playing at a local restaurant, or a retirement home can be good ways to share music with a real audience. Or, find other families with children who play, and have a musical ‘play-date’!
Even when it seems like they don’t, kids absorb and observe the most cues from their parents. If you want your children to care about their music lessons, then they need to see you care about the music lessons as well. The minute they feel you loose interest, or that you would rather not spend the energy, the requests to quit will come fast and furious.
Tip: Spend a portion of their daily practice time together. Stay interested in what they’re working on, and check in on their progress regularly. As you see them accomplish things, even if it’s a very small achievement, help them to celebrate and feel good about the ‘win’. Also, if there are ways for you to participate in the lesson with the teacher, that also helps demonstrate the lesson’s importance.
Classical music is what most piano lessons are based on. However, unless you or the rest of the family are electively listening to classical music for fun in the home, the genre will instantly feel disconnected and irrelevant to everyday life. Kids will want to play what they hear around them. If they don’t hear classical, they probably won’t want to play it. If they only hear Top 40 or Pop, then that’s what they’ll want to play.
Tip: Make sure you can connect with a teacher or a school that offers the option of various repertoire and genre streams. And keep in mind, a child’s sense of relevance will come from their surroundings – if you want them to like playing a certain type of music, they’ll need multiple ways to experience it….not just in a lesson.
We all can’t be super-parents, and kids will be kids. But if you’re able to take some of these tips and apply them to your son or daughter’s experiences with music lessons, they will make an enormous difference in their engagement, and ultimately their motivation to continue on. Every successful musician on the planet has experienced plenty of all 5 of these tips, and everyone can do them. Good luck!
Featured Image: Image Credit
If the #GRAMMYs care about music education they should address the ed “reformers” who insist on cutting the arts in public schools.
— Seeker of the Truth (@Grtseeker) February 16, 2016
— NEA (@NEAToday) February 23, 2016
How to Help Your Kids Get the Most from Music Lessons
As a parent, you are the first teacher of your children. Most parents are involved in their child’s studies to encourage them to do well in school. Showing your support for your child’s education provides great motivation for them to improve their school performances in the whole year.
There are many ways in which parents can help their child become successful in their music education, especially through their music lessons. Your involvement in helping your children learn music lesson should be in a positive and moderate way. This will help your child experience music as an enjoyable subject and not feel they are being force to study. It is essential that you let your children enjoy their music education. American Music Institute
Teach Your Child to Love Learning: Keys to Kids’ Motivation
There are few things more aggravating to parents than a kid who “doesn’t try.” Whether it’s math homework, dance class or those guitar lessons they begged for but now never practice, we want our children to be eager learners who embrace effort, relish challenges and understand the value of persistence. Too often, what we see instead is foot-dragging avoidance and whiny complaints of “This is boring!”
Finding the fun
Sometimes motivation is easy. When a task is fun and interesting, trying hard feels effortless. A child who loves basketball may endlessly practice free throws. A child who is fascinated by Greek gods may devour books on this topic. All of these are examples of intrinsic motivation because the motivation comes from the enjoyableness of the task itself. Via PBS
Music lessons are great for kids……but what if they hate to practice?
Those in the business of teaching music say it provides practical benefits for learners. But what if parents invest in music lessons and their children simply don’t want to stick with it? “Even if they stick with it for only six months, it’s still a benefit because they learned to open up their creative brain,” says Josie Quick, a violin teacher and Park Hill resident.
She has had a Park Hill business teaching violin for 25 years and says exposure to music and arts connects the creative brain to the logical brain. “The creative side helps us solve problems. If the creative brain isn’t working, we’re stuck doing things the same old way.” Via Front Porch