Senior Instructor at Halifax Guitar Lessons
This is a common complaint I hear from parents who have children in guitar lessons.
For whatever reason we are brought up to believe that when we take music lessons we have to go home and practice or it is a waste of time and money.
And I suppose, if the purpose of taking guitar lessons is to become a professional guitar player as quickly as possible, it would definitely be a waste.
This is not why I put my kids in music lessons and I have not yet heard a parent tell me that is why they are putting their child in guitar lessons.
The expectations are usually completely different. So then why such a big fuss about kids practicing at home?
Here are 3 reasons why you should not be concerned if your child is not practicing guitar at home between lessons and why you need to keep them in lessons.
1. Major Developmental Benefits
There is a large amount of research that has poured in over the past several years that point to the huge benefits that music provides to children and there is more coming out.
This is only the tip of the iceberg as more and more people are researching the effects of music on the brain and development on children.
So far, the data is overwhelmingly positive and indicate that learning a musical instrument such as guitar will help develop areas of the brain that have other important functions.
It helps create new pathways for understanding sound and language and the more kids are exposed to music and learning and instrument the more pathways grow and become highways for learning.
Although preliminary there is also evidence to suggest that these benefits to the brain help kids do better in school and in life. It’s a big deal.
The thing is that these benefits do not happen if your child only stays in guitar lessons for a few months. They have to stick out longer.
2. They Still Learn To Play Guitar
In the end your child will still learn to play guitar. So, what if they are not progressing at the rate you think they should be.
How do you know how fast anyone should be progressing when learning guitar? Are you a trained guitar teacher with years of experience teaching kids how to play?
Why does it matter if it takes your child 1 month or 3 months to learn to do something on guitar? They are still going to learn it. And unlike school this is not going to slow them down in life. Many studies show it will do the opposite.
Expecting too much from them too soon is going to have the worst possible effect. It will put undue pressure on them to perform and to try and improve faster than they are able to.
This will take the fun out of playing guitar and they will eventually quit. Not because they are not learning or progressing, but because you are expecting way too much from them.
It’s amazing to me how parents have no problem letting their kids go to sports each week and then don’t expect them to practice at home. Interestingly, kids tend to enjoy it and keep going and they get better over time.
Why would you treat learning guitar so different? It shouldn’t be that way. Let them have fun, let them learn at their pace, and they will get better and figure it out over time.
3. They Will Enjoy Guitar For Life
If you keep your child in guitar even if they do not practice at home they will still improve and get better and they will probably have fun and enjoy themselves too.
The first part of learning guitar is where the biggest challenge is so if you can keep them involved long enough to get past this first stage they will turn a corner and hit a level where things get easier.
That’s usually when things click for kids and for many adults as well and where guitar becomes even more fun because now they can actually play it at a decent level.
When this happens, people tend to get even more motivated to play, kids included, and next thing you know they are playing and practicing all the time, even at home.
Once we can get a guitar student this far we have unlocked the door to guitar enough that they will be able to play it and enjoy it for life and brings all the benefits of playing an instrument with them.
Resist The Typical Urge To Shut Down Guitar Lessons
I’ve been there as a parent. I have three children who are now grown up and I remember the urge to make them practice.
For me it wasn’t about losing the money I was putting into it. I could see my kids had skill and talent to play and being older I knew if they practiced more they would make a lot more progress and enjoy it more.
However, the means, forcing them to practice, destroyed the end, wanting them to progress faster. Because the more I would try to push them, the more they resisted and the less fun it became and the less they wanted to practice and play.
I decided to leave them alone and kept them in lessons. What happened next? Two out of the three became more dedicated to music and wanted to continue pursuing it. One of them became passionate about music and is on his way to becoming a professional musician.
What happened to the third? Well he stayed in music lessons for several years and eventually stopped lessons and we thought he had no interest in music anymore. We recently found out he is indeed interested in pursuing it again so those lessons were definitely the reason why.
I’m pretty sure this would not be the case if I pushed them and forced them to practice like it was homework. Resist it, let them enjoy the guitar, let them grow a passion for it.