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Kids, Music and Practice

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BAG, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. I thought i'd start a new thread rather than go off-topic after reading a post by Pelao on the "how often do you practice" Poll where he wrote.....

    I have two pretty talented 14 and 11 year old kids who have been playing guitar since they were 7 and 6 respectively. For the last few years they have been gigging occasionally as a duo, sometimes as a trio with me, and sitting in with some serious pro musicians gigs who we have got to know.

    Now we've been telling them for years that they don't have to play music if they don't want to. They can hang up the guitars, or just play whenever they want.... BUT... if they want to do gigs they have to practice and they love gigging so they do (sometimes pretty half heartedly). Generally it is around 20-30mins each morning before school and a lesson/practice for an hour on either a Saturday or Sunday when we don't have other things on which usually works out as every other week.

    This generally works but if we don't remind them they can get pretty slack. Things are a bit better these days but a couple of years ago TV was more important than anything and they could watch 3 hours of TV and then say they didn't have time to practice that day. Hey, they're kids and priorities are different and I can see where they think they've got no time. If the kids Pelao are teaching are anything like mine they can spend 10 minutes each day staring into space or spinning around getting dizzy.

    Mind you, my 14 year old is now getting some serious amounts of homework which is making it harder to have even 20 mins for her and me to jam at night.

    What do other parents or music teachers find works.... or doesn't???
    NealBass likes this.
  2. hintz


    Jun 5, 2014
    wahiawa, HI(Oahu)
    They have to WANT IT!! I started when I was 11, my father tried to teach me even younger , but I made friends with a guitarist right before the 6th grade, and we were both into metal, so I got my dad to teach me the basics and I ran with it....

    I used to give lessons, and I always found out what kind of music they liked and id go from there with theory, reading, no tablature though:(
    ...that stuff is awful!!

    I did this because my first music teacher was trying to teach me how to read music, and wouldn't show me anything of interest at the time(like any 11 year old has a burning desire to sight read...), so id make sure they liked to play first, and id be upfront with the parents if their kid wasn't showing interest...

    I even had one parent complain that I wasn't teaching his kid scales/reading, so I explained to him my reasons for not throwing that stuff at a beginner , music is supposed to be fun....20 years later I'm still at it....

    My point is, they have to want/need to play otherwise its a waste of time and money....just my opinion though;)

    to OP, I'm not sure if I was any help, sorry if I'm not!!
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
  3. NealBass

    NealBass Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2014
    I don't teach, or have kids, but I did find;

    How to Get Your Child to Practice... Without Resorting to Violence!! Paperback – 1985


    Here's a review from a popular online bookstore:

    " I read most of this book at my sister-in-law's place: she is also a piano teacher. The author, Cynthia Richards, has several children of her own, and managed to help most of them to learn to play various instruments, as well as conducting a busy piano studio.

    She makes some great points in her book, and while I will give you a few of her hints here, you will find it well worth your while to read the whole shebang. And it's as cheap as chips!

    Mrs Richards alerts her readers to these stumbling blocks:

    1 Indifferent home environment
    2 Faulty teacher-child relationslip
    3 Lack of maturity and commitment in the child
    4 The wrong instrument
    5 Unfavourable practice conditions
    6 Bad memories
    7 Peer pressure not to practise
    8 Not proficient enough to be competitive
    9 Too many conflicting interests
    10 Sibling rivalry
    11 Competitive feelings with a parent
    12 Communications

    She also suggests some ways to overcome these problems:

    1 Start early
    2 Practise with your child every day
    3 Set up family rules for practising
    4 Use incentives when needed
    5 Handle conflicts by
    a avoiding emotional involvement
    b being friendly
    c being matter of fact
    d not giving in
    6 Enjoy your children's music
    7 Praise them for their successes
    8 Look for stumbling blocks and do your best to remove them
    9 Focus your efforts on getting your child hooked on music

    I highly recommend this book. If you follow the advice of a successful mother and music teacher, your child may not become a little Mozart; but you will be a better parent, your child will be a happier child and together you will enjoy some great musical experiences."

    Hope this helps.
    kwaping and hintz like this.
  4. Joce


    Jul 20, 2005
    Not a parent or music teacher, but...
    Dude, they're kids! If you're paying money for lessons, they don't practice for, then ask them, if they don't like the lessons and why. Maybe that can be fixed or the teacher can be switched. Other than that, let 'em figure it out by themselves. They have already gigged and know pro musicians, sounds to me like a great recipe to get hooked. I'm pretty sure making them do anything will not be great motivation. If they don't practice for a gig and bomb, they will realize it (the laest when they won't get any gigs anymore...) and either practice more or give it up.
    Just re-read your post and you generally seem to be going in that direction. The bold "if they wanna play gigs, they have to practice" threw me off, don't think anyone ever told that to the Sex Pistols...
  5. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    When my son was younger, we wanted to make sure he did enough reading every day. We went with the carrot and stick approach (playing X-Box or watching TV was the carrot). Until he put in an hour reading, no TV or X-Box. It was up to him.

    It worked - now he reads on a regular basis without this rule. Once it got ingrained into his routine, it was no problem. Perhaps something similar. Perhaps, if they don't do at least X minutes of practice at least X out of 7 days of the week, every week, no playing out. Tell them that you are happy they like playing out, but that it is a privilege, and they have to earn it, especially when they are playing with experienced musicians, who have already, and continue to put their time in.

    The first time they miss out on a chance to gig, they will see - hopefully it won't come to that.
  6. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    Lots of recent studies show that learning to read music is good training for the young mind and the benefits are realized throughout life. So getting the kids lessons will pay off. Having launched a couple of kids into the world, you do the best you can, hope for the best, and try to demonstrate the best behavior possible as a model for them.

    I also think that when your kids get into a social setting where there skill sets begin to attract attention, they will find more motivation.
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Also, when I was young, I hated to practice - my parents never could get me to do so. Once I started playing at church, and had to perform every week, I did it on my own, because I wanted to do well. Find them more places to play, even if it is church or teen center or whatever.
  8. Pelao


    Dec 7, 2014
    I'm not a parent, just a teacher. My income is dependent on these lessons. I understand that not everyone will pursue music; for those who don't seem that interested I'll at least make the piano lesson fun.

    I set clear expectations for my students, and constantly remind them that if something is difficult now, I promise it will become easier after practice. 1 30 minute lessons a week is not enough to learn songs, so I make sure to instead teach them the tools they need to practice efficiently at home.

    The issue is when the parents seem disappointed that the child isn't progressing. There is a disconnect. 30 minutes once a week is not enough time to develop muscle memory. I know that we won't complete songs in a lesson. I HOPE that the next week, we can review the song once or twice and move on, but I find that each lesson is just a repeat of the last lesson for 95% of my students.

    Parents aren't happy paying when they see no improvement, but when I ask the kids they always say they have no time to practice. Whether they are genuinely busy for 14-16 hours per day (Yikes!) or the parent hasn't shown them that practice time can happen during "fun" time. Yes, I think it is the parents, given that I am talking about ages 4-14. Especially the younger ones, they just follow whatever schedule is given to them by their parents.

    Frankly, I'm at a loss and near the end of my rope. I'm already looking for another job, because I'm completely tired each day being like "groundhog day."

    "Did you practice this week?"
    "Uhhhh only 1 day."
    "How come?"
    "Well, Monday I had art. Then Tuesday I had dance. Then today I have piano. Tomorrow I have french. Friday is my day off."

    As a teacher, what else can I do?
  9. Yep. There's no point forcing a kid to play music.

    I'm going to look this up. With my 14 year old now teaching younger kids we both might find it useful. Thanks.

    I'm thinking that I might have come across as a bit harsh. The "practice or no gig" is the carrot we found most effective to get them to practice.We tried other rewards but this seems to work best. Some might still feel it's harsh. So be it.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
  10. When they were younger it was "practice or no lessons" and they loved their lessons with other people so they practised. When we moved town and didn't have a decent teacher i took over. I found that Kayla (8 at the time) wouldn't try things I was showing her and would say, "I can't", "it's too hard" and other similar things. This got me pretty frustrated because she never did this with her guitar teacher. He'd show her something, and she'd just do it and do it well.

    I came up with a different carrot. I told her that I was going to give her a proper lesson once a week and now that we weren't paying for lessons that I was going to pay her $5 for each lesson! BUT, each time she said "I can't" or "it's too hard" or put on a sooky face she'd lose a dollar. I figured this wasn't going to cost us at all. Well, that was a real turning point and she learnt so much over the next few months without losing a single dollar. Much of the money she earned from this was used to buy herself her first acoustic/electric guitar.
  11. hintz


    Jun 5, 2014
    wahiawa, HI(Oahu)
    Just so we're clear, I wasn't trying to imply you are forcing them or anything...

    I'm no parent, me and the wife just have dogs(though they get more spoiled than most children:)), so props to you for teaching your kids good things!!

    when I was younger I had real bad ADD, I couldn't focus on anything, EVER!! Playing bass was the only thing that got my full attention , almost to obsessiveness....i can't imagine my life without bass!!

    I think that you getting them out on gigs is the right thing though, either they'll stick with it and run with it as they get some good attention from shows, keep it as a fun hobby, or grow out of it....my father had me sit in on gigs when I was about 12, it was a life changer for me, feeling the stage rumble under me and I was controlling it!! Nothing better...

    hope it all goes well for you and your family, good luck!!
    kwaping likes this.
  12. Cheers hintz. Yeah, they love the stage. I tell them if they do nothing else with their music it will at least help get through University. While their friends are earning$15 an hour waiting tables they can easily get $300 per gig doing solo work.
    kwaping and hintz like this.
  13. hintz


    Jun 5, 2014
    wahiawa, HI(Oahu)
    It got me a scholarship;)
    kwaping likes this.

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