How Can I Motivate My Child to Practice?

practice blog tips

An easy solution that will be music to your ears!

More often than not, when kids practice by themselves they have a difficult time keeping a specific goal in mind as they play their piece over and over again. Their practicing becomes painfully inefficient, their progress slows down, and boredom sets in. Soon your budding musician becomes less and less motivated to practice. He whines every time you remind him to just “sit down and practice” and you start wondering why you are spending all this money and time on music lessons. What do you do?

Since letting your child quit is only for wimps you try everything from practice games and coloring books to stickers charts, or even edible rewards to get your child to practice more effectively. Even though it seems to be working, you soon start noticing that your little musician is spending more time playing the game, choosing which crayon to use, or which sticker to put on the chart than actually playing his instrument! That’s when you start questioning yourself… is all this time and money really worth it? Maybe my child has no interest or musical talent after all?

As a busy mom and music teacher, I too, was continually searching for a simpler way to motivate my students to practice. In my search I found the most effective motivator to be jars of pennies or marbles, or even colored candies to help the students keep track of successful repetitions. (Similar techniques are used by speech therapists.) However, there was a huge down side: I was spending way too much time fishing pennies from between the piano keys, or retrieving marbles that had rolled under the piano. I was determined to find a better way!

In desperation I decided to keep the beads under control by stringing them on a loop of wire that I cut from an old wire coat hanger which I then stuck the ends into a piece of Styrofoam. I handed it to my husband who willingly took my prototype to the workshop. He figured out a way to secure the wire in a wooden base, and surprised me with his own design: a double eighth note! It was an instant hit! The “Play It Again!” Practice Note was born. That was in 1986. Even today, my students (and grandkids) never tire of trying out new ways to flip the beads from one side to the other as they practice or during their lesson. I have found that the visual, tactile and aural reinforcement is all my students need to stay on task. The beautiful music that fills my ears and the confident smile that appears on their face (as I applaud their success) is all the reward I need!

Melody Baker, B.S., MT-BC

(Melody has been teaching voice, piano and guitar since 1980. She is currently a music teacher and music therapist in the central California foothills.)

Click here to order your own “Play It Again” Practice Note on Amazon.

Music Lessons: What it Takes to Become a Musician

Do music lessons make you smarter?

music lessons autistic child

There are many brain studies out there proving that people who have taken music lessons long enough to become even moderately proficient on their instrument are smarter. However, you don’t need to be a neurosurgeon to understand that increased brain capacity is only one of the benefits. (Click here to read research article.)

If you really want to know how music lessons will help your child become happier, more successful adult… just talk to a musician. He or she will be glad to will tell you that it takes more than talent to learn how to play an instrument:

    • It takes hours, and days and years.
    • It takes consistent and diligent practice.
    • It takes patience.
    • It takes commitment.
    • It takes repetition.
    • It takes concentration.
    • It takes sacrifice of both time and money.
    • It takes a listening, sensitive ear.
    • It takes coordination.
    • It requires the ability to focus for long periods of time.
    • It requires a sensitive heart.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point. Along with the life skills we develop when we learn to play an instrument, the music itself can have a powerful affect on our moods, our motivation and our happiness… whether we are the musician or the listener. Even a simple melody played by a beginning student can feed the soul, warm the heart, improve the mood and make this world a much better place to live.

– Melody Baker MT-BC, B.M.
Music Teacher, Music Therapist, Private Tutor

Here is where it all starts…

I launched this website at the end of February 2013, and it is definitely a work in progress. I am hoping that at this same time next year there will be something here for everyone. I am just learning about what an interactive website can do… so I think the sky is the limit.

Please, if you have any ideas of what you would like to see… please make a suggestion in the questions and comments section…

Thank you… and hope you enjoy learning and sharing your music!

Melody