Signing your child up for music lessons is a great way to foster both creativity and structure into their lives. But as every parent knows, getting an aspiring student to practice consistently can be challenging in the best of times.
“I recommend having an umbrella strategy – which is to have an arsenal of ideas that you can pull out at any time,” says Valerie Lewis, the Executive Director of the Third Street Music School Settlement in Manhattan. The Third Street Music School recently celebrated the 120th anniversary of its founding and boasts of having students ranging from four to 94-years old.Lewis offers these tips for families who want their children to have fun while creating music.
Keep the instruments out: “The more accessible the instrument is and the easier it is to get to, the better,” says Lewis. “Keep the keys open on the piano or get a music stand so that your child can grab it whenever they are inspired. Making [the instrument] visible is key.”
Throw mini-concerts:“Turn practice into a performance,” Lewis recommends. “My son is six and we line up his stuffed animals and he performs for them. We create a fun relaxed atmosphere and he’s getting comfortable with the idea of performance.”Lewis adds that one of her favorite parts about the Third Street Music School is that it encourages students to perform for small groups all year around. “They can perform their piece in a comfortable setting that’s a little bit more casual,” she explains.
Make it a family affair:“Have a parent play alongside their child,” says Lewis. “I’ve seen it here with parents playing the same instrument as their child and it’s very beneficial. We’re making music together.”
Don’t force it:There’s no set amount of time a child needs to practice, says Lewis. “Ten to 15 minutes a day is good particularly for the younger students,” she adds. “You might want to introduce a morning rehearsal before school, so that you get it out of the way.”
The most important thing, says Lewis, is to create a passion for music. “We want them to fall for an instrument,” she says. “We want it to be love at first sight.”
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