Children tend to designate school as a place of study and their home as a place of play (with a sprinkling of homework and chores, of course). For this reason, kids don’t always associate learning with the home; they associate learning with the structures they typically learn in. While the pandemic has begun to change this sentiment, it has by no means been an easy shift for kids who have had a year struggling with virtual learning. When all activities are conducted inside the same four walls, it can be nearly impossible to get a child to focus on growing their knowledge.
The separation of home and school isn’t problematic in and of itself, but it does hamper our ability to teach children outside of a structured educational environment. Parents can fight tooth and nail, but at the end of the day, they can’t make their kids absorb a music education; true learning, the type that sticks, has to be a personal choice.
Luckily, there are ample ways to encourage children to take the initiative with their in-home music lessons. By nurturing a student’s appreciation for music and creating a practice environment that fosters success, students will have everything they need to discover all the joys that music can offer.
Making Arrangements: Successful In-Home Music Lessons
Create a Productive Routine
One of the most influential factors for successful in-home music lessons is a student’s routine. Weaving music into a child’s day-to-day life provides a solid foundation for them to build on. The benefits of a routine are well-understood, especially when it comes to educating children. To start, if practicing an instrument is an expected daily activity, students will be more likely to continue practicing during school breaks. People can experience significant regression in progress even after a few weeks into a hiatus from an activity, which can be extremely frustrating when they resume it again down the road.
Another benefit of a music routine is that it can build a student’s self-esteem. Strong time management skills teach responsibility, let children feel more in control, and even improve executive functioning. Of course, their musical abilities will also see a positive impact from a routine. Regular practice cultivates muscle memory and skill, which improves confidence, which in turn motivates more practice – creating a virtuous cycle of boosted self-esteem and growing musical abilities.
The best routine for students will depend heavily on two things: mentality and timing. The most critical piece of a successful routine, without a shadow of a doubt, is the attitude around it. Grouping music practice with chores essentially tells the child that practice is a task to dread; it’s something they have to do, not something they want to do. Music is meant to be joyful, and it’s our role as parents and educators to present it in that way.
Another major factor to consider when building a routine is the time of day. Most kids practice their instrument after school, somewhere between homework, soccer practice, dinner and TV time; if this works for the student, great! However, practicing at the end of the day isn’t the only option. It’s easy for children to feel overextended with after school activities, and fitting music practice into an already hectic afternoon can make learning an instrument seem stressful. In this situation, it may be more constructive to designate a few minutes in the morning for music practice instead of cramming it into the evening. During school holidays, mid-day lessons can also be a nice way to reduce stress, break up the day, and add some structure.
Just as making a routine around music can help with in-home music lessons, incorporating music into the child’s existing routines can also foster musical growth. One way to do this, particularly for younger kids, is to play music or create songs for some of their daily activities, such as cleaning, getting ready for school or just dancing around.
Build a Dedicated Lesson Space
Another technique for getting the most out of in-home music lessons is to designate a practice space. The goal of setting aside one room or area is to minimize distractions, offer privacy, and give the student a space to call their own. Ideally, the area will have adequate lighting, no pets or siblings running by and enough privacy for the child to practice without feeling self-conscious.
Personalizing the practice space can also be an excellent opportunity to give the child more agency in their music education. Kids can hang artwork, helpful posters, decorations, notes with positive feedback or anything else they need to take ownership of the room. The most important factor of a dedicated area is whether or not the child feels comfortable; by creating a space that the student actually enjoys, they’ll be far more inclined to use it.
Explore Different Ways To Learn
Often, adults try and teach kids as though they too are adults – but they’re not. Our attention spans gradually increase with age, so it’s no wonder how a young child may grow bored working on the same task for hours on end. Breaking activities into smaller tasks makes them more digestible to young musicians and far less overwhelming to start.
Children can also quickly grow tired when they are forced to perform the same type of lesson repeatedly. To change things up, parents and instructors can incorporate more variety into the mix. Kids can learn music through listening, writing, composing and playing – and instructors can alternate between these different learning formats to keep the lessons interesting. Educators can also add variety to the activities themselves. Students could learn by composing a piece in the style they are learning, making music for a poem, participating in healthy competition, practicing solfege hand signs with their favorite songs and so on. If you’re stuck on ideas, there are hundreds of unique options available online.
Let Students Have A Say
As stated previously, we can’t force a kid to enjoy music, but we can provide opportunities for them to find the joy in it themselves. One of the best (and easiest) ways to do this is by giving the student a say in their learning. Unfortunately, some kids don’t see the appeal of a beautifully composed Beethoven work, but they might find inspiration in a Taylor Swift song or a classic by the Beatles. In the long-run, it doesn’t really matter what songs a musician learns; what matters is that they want to play their instrument.
Technology is a great way to enhance in-home music lessons. Not all kids learn in the same ways, so incorporating different forms of media could be an effective way to reach those who learn visually or through imitation. Students can watch an artist perform a song they are working on to understand its cadence better, see how they move, and grow their enthusiasm.
There are also many apps that can help bolster in-home music lessons. A prime example of this is metronome apps, which can help students work on timing, meter, and pulse. At Forbes Music Company, students can take their in-home music lessons even further with our Repertoire Tracker and Performance Capture Platform. With these tools, students can see all of the songs, pieces, topics, themes and techniques they’ve learned, feedback from their instructor, and status updates on their progress. Highlighting progress tangibly motivates students and ultimately leads to long-term retention.
A Grand Staff for In-Home Music Lessons
The cornerstone of successful in-home music lessons is on us: exceptionally caring, highly-skilled instructors. Our award-winning teachers continuously go out of their way to provide top-notch music lessons, all at your student’s pace. Our account portal offers reminders and alerts, file sharing and calendars to take some of the burdens from parents and guardians with hectic schedules. With all of this ready at the touch of a button, you don’t have to worry about missing a lesson or losing your child’s sheet music – everything you need for successful in-home music lessons is available.
Are you thinking of purchasing lessons for the musician in your life? Click here to find the discount and commitment level of your choosing, and let’s get to making music!