As a parent or carer you have a vital part to play in how your child progresses on their instrument.
In today's busy world there are increasing demands on the time of parents (and children) and it is often difficult to give all the time you would like in all aspects of their education and leisure.
In an ideal world, you would listen to their practising, encourage them to listen to good music and go to live music performances, communicate on a regular basis with their teacher, encouage them to belong to group activities and attend all their performances. Plus, of course, hiring or buying their instrument, paying all the bills and taking them to all the lessons! You could also learn the instrument (or a complementary one) with them.
In return they would practise on a regular basis without complaint, always remember their music and instrument and be prepared to perform for relatives and friends at the drop of a hat!
In the real world it's unlikely that you (or they) can do all these things. So here are some tips from teachers for parents and carers.
- Look in their practice book - all pupils will have an official Hertfordshire Music Service practice book. If you're not sure what your child should be practising, use it to tell the teacher. If you understand it, you can help your child.
- Make practising easy - somewhere they can practise quietly without being disturbed by brothers, sisters, computers or social media is a real help. A music stand makes a good Christmas or birthday present.
- Listen when you can - but be aware that they won't always be playing pieces.... and exercises can be rather boring to listen to. Playing a whole piece too early can do more harm than good.
- Trust the teacher - sometimes it's difficult to see the long-term picture. But, of course, if you're not happy with the way your child's lessons are going, please make sure you tell the teacher as soon as possible. A meeting with a teacher or sitting in on a lesson can often iron out simple problems although this is sometimes difficult to fit in with parent's and teacher's busy schedules.
All music service teachers have a work email address (....@hertsmusicservice.org.uk) and they may be happy to communicate with you in this way. You should not use a teacher's personal email or telephone number - a school will be happy to pass on a request to be contacted.
- There are no shortcuts - writing in the note names or fingering may get your child playing something quickly but it will make long-term progress much harder and will undermine the work of the teacher. Playing and enjoying a musical instrument is, hopefully, for life and the first few weeks and months will establish good habits.