Motivating Your Child to Practice

“While it may be tempting, don’t bargain with practice time. Although in trying to skip a day, your child may really mean, “I will practice double tomorrow,” this sets the standard that practice time is negotiable.”

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What’s the Right Age to Begin Music Lessons?

“There is a growing (and convincing) body of research that indicates a “window of opportunity” from birth to age nine for developing a musical sensibility within children. During this time, the mental structures and mechanisms associated with processing and understanding music are in the prime stages of development, making it of utmost importance to expose children in this age range to music.”

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Encouraging Your Child’s Exploration of the Arts

“Look for programs that emphasize process over product. Any legitimate arts teacher will be happy to talk to the parent of a prospective student. Ask instructors about their philosophy of teaching and method for motivating kids when the going gets rough. You’ll be able to gauge if their teaching style will mesh well with your child’s learning style. Be wary of instructors who urge expensive equipment or insist on a “package” at the start, but recognize that start-up costs are often essential and unavoidable.”

The Uncanny Power of Music

Alive Inside documents the uncanny power of music to reawaken emotions and lost memories in people with dementia. Rossato-Bennett shadows Dan Cohen, a social worker and founder of the nonprofit Music & Memory, as he brings personalized music on iPods into nursing homes across the country. The transformation in emotion, awareness and memory shown in these elderly patients may leave viewers incredulous, wondering “How is this possible?” A number of researchers have studied this topic, however, and they have some ideas about how music affects the brain—specifically, music that is deeply meaningful to the person. — Annie Sneed

How long should I practice?

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When asked “how often should I practice?” I say “every day”. “How much every day?” I suggest “as much as you love it, and then a little bit longer than that.” If someone loves doing it for 10 minutes a day, then 20. If it’s 2 hours a day, then 2 and a half. But I don’t like to tell young students the MUST practice and make it a chore, or something that they feel MADE to do. Consistency is the key. But the desire to do so truly motivates.

I try to instill in them that they are explorers, and that they are setting out on a journey, upon which I am their trusted guide. They should wake up wondering “what will I discover today?” They should be curious and eager to get out there and explore. I give them the maps, tools, ships, points of interest. I show them how to interpret the maps, read a compass, and find their way. If they see it from this perspective, they are often inspired to become a great explorer of the craft, and not just “do what I show you”, or “listen kid, your parents are paying for this, you should practice or you’re wasting their money”. They feel, hopefully, that THEY are part of the exploration, part of a journey no one else has been on, taking pride and ownership of their path.

  • Scott Jones – Guitar Instructor