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Music practice in this generation

(20 Posts)
Claybury Thu 18-Dec-14 17:51:29

Does anyone out there have DC's who are genuinely self driven and practice instruments without parental involvement ? All the children I know these days who are playing to a reasonable standard have a parent behind them helping /pushing /driving / shouting.
I got to grade 8 piano at 16 without any parental involvement other than writing cheques for the lessons which I walked to. In fact I was discouraged from taking music any further as it was considered a trivial hobby.
I am now a parent who is very involved with getting DC's to practice. It's hard work being the parent and one of the most frustrating things!

crappyday Thu 18-Dec-14 17:53:14

My DS will do piano practice ALL the time. It's actually really annoying! He's 8.
Trumpet practice I have to be a slave driver for.
He wanted to learn both.

JemimaMuddledUp Thu 18-Dec-14 17:59:52

I have 3 DC who all play instruments. DS1 is 12 and plays piano and violin, DS2 is 10 and plays trumpet, DD is 8 and plays violin.

They are pretty good at remembering to practice themselves. We have tick charts in the kitchen and they tick off when they have practiced, they are expected to do 5 days out of 7 on each instrument. They can choose which days they don't practice.

Enthusiasm tends to go in peaks and troughs. DS2 and DD play in county wind band and orchestra and they tend to practice a lot when they have a new piece that they love. DS1 will take himself off and play piano for an hour or more if he is in the mood, but practice is usually around 20 minutes.

DS1 has just done his first theory exam and got a distinction, he revised for that entirely by himself.

I think if I had to nag all three of them every day I would lose the will to live. I do have to remind them sometimes, but usually they do it by themselves. It is just part of the routine.

Mistigri Thu 18-Dec-14 20:30:32

I made DD 13 give up her first instrument (recorder) a couple of years ago because she didn't practice. Then she decided to take up guitar and it has been completely different - she is entirely self-motivated and in fact she was initially completely self-taught, using the internet. She has never spent a lot of time practicing pieces set by her teachers but she spends a lot of time playing other things, and even more time composing. I would say it's a rare week that she doesn't play at least 8-10 hours and it can be a lot more than that in the school holidays. Obviously progress has been correspondingly rapid.

It's a bit more complicated with her third and fourth instruments (piano and sax) mainly because time can be tight, especially for sax practice which can't be done too late in the evening. She plays the piano most days but not all of it is "practice", she does a lot of improvisation and general messing about. I do have to insist that she plays her set pieces, because the lessons are expensive and I won't pay for them unless she is getting something out of them. After Christmas I may have a rethink about lessons although it would be a shame as she has come a long way in a short time.

She practices sax less mainly I think because it's more of an effort to get out the instrument and unlike the guitar you can't play it in bed ;) but in fairness as a former G6 recorder player, the repertoire does not at this stage require much work (she can sight read everything her teacher gives her). Stamina is an issue though and for this reason I try to get her to play at least 4 days a week - but unless she gets into the habit of playing regularly without being asked it is unlikely I will pay for a second year of lessons.

FestiveChopinLizt Thu 18-Dec-14 20:39:41

Mine do practice regularly, they gave diaries from school to fill in, if they don't make enough effort the lessons will be stopped by the school as they are heavily subsidised. Ds gets one instrument tuition for free as part of GCSE, which is great.

I tend to tell them when I have enjoyed hearing them play, to encourage them. They do practice more when they have to perform, which is regularly as their school insists on performances as part of the subsidised lessons.

Dd 9 was not playing as often as she should until I realised that she would practice every day before school for the promise of one lolly from the sweet shop on Saturday. She now has the habit and forgets about the lolly grin

Another point is that I practice myself at least every day, so they see it as a normal thing to do. It's a bit like reading, or shouting if you do it they tend to copy.

JulieMichelleRobinson Fri 19-Dec-14 12:07:53

I am 30 and my mum had to practically force me at times, mainly when I was a pre-teen/early teenager. Especially piano, which I didn't like at all. Oh, look at me now being a piano teacher. <facepalm>

I have discovered recently that adding a tech aspect can really encourage practise. This only applies to my piano students, really, and only to the sort of 8-12 age group for which the particular app I use is designed (the older ones appreciate its educational value but the images etc. are too young for them). It not only encourages them to practise by going up levels, gaining stars etc. but also a) won't let them try playing a phrase hands together until they can play both hands well, or go on to the next phrase until they can play the first and b) feeds back info to me as a teacher. And it's free. Win. I use it with older students to encourage sight-reading skills, where they all seem to struggle, by doing easier pieces by themselves. Oh, and it ties in with the tutor books I use but contains other repertoire, and if they play something really well in a lesson I can email the performance to their mum or dad.

JulieMichelleRobinson Fri 19-Dec-14 12:08:31

FWIW, I'm 30 and I still don't do much practise. But that's because it's now spread amongst nine instruments.

Mistigri Fri 19-Dec-14 13:09:34

There is a huge cross-over benefit for those playing multiple instruments though - DD is tackling pieces of a similar difficulty level on all three instruments despite the very different amount of experience and practice time.

There comes a point where more intensive and focused practice is required though (and DD is probably only putting in enough practice hours on guitar).

1805 Sat 20-Dec-14 20:44:45

JulieMR - whats the app called?

I was made to practice by my (non musical) dad, and became a pro!!!

We have to nag our 2 dc to practise but do make them do it. DC1 is doing really well, dc2 has SEN so is different.

Worriedandlost Sun 21-Dec-14 10:38:19

I always control practicing, but this is a downside of starting early (at 4) I can not leave dd to practice on her own as she may miss important details just because she cannot concentrate for a long period.

lecherslady Sun 21-Dec-14 11:00:07

My eldest never has to be asked to practice. She wanted to play the instrument, so I said yes on condition she practises. If she doesn't practise, she gives up the instrument. Simple as that. So she does, she gets up every day at 6:30 and practises every morning before school.

DD2 is younger and more fickle, so she does need to be reminded. However, she does it without complaint. Again, if she does not practise, she'll have to give up her instrument.

That works well for us, because the children want to learn, whereas I'm not fussed if they learn an instrument or not. I could see that it would be much harder if it was the parent (rather than the child) who really wanted their child to learn an instrument.

JulieMichelleRobinson Mon 22-Dec-14 10:56:51


It's called Piano Maestro, from JoyTunes. Works with various American books, but I've taken to Alfred's Premier so great for my students. Only up to 2b at present. There are several tutor books in the programme plus other pieces, so can use as supplementary music up to grade 2 level (or above, for easier pieces or sightreading). Most of my current students have been learning for two years max.

I think they're hoping to add more books in the future.

ChocolateWombat Mon 22-Dec-14 11:40:32

My DS is often motivated to play the piano as he walks past it. Just sits down and has a bit of a play.
I think it helps if the instrument is always out.....I know someone who has their clarinet hanging on a hook on the kitchen wall, so it is always accessible and the music stand is always up. Important to make it easy I think.
Having said that, proper practice of next weeks/exam pieces 5 times a week is important.

FlowerFairy2014 Mon 22-Dec-14 11:58:10

Our children vary. I doubt those that did would have got music scholarships without my sitting down with them to practise when they were younger however and I do remember my mother setting our piano practice time. I think mine was before school or may be I chose to do it then to get it over with. Also ultimately it depends on their hobbies - you can lead horses to water and our children then ultimately pick the hobbies they prefer which sometimes are sport with mine which is fine. They have something they love for life. It does not have to be music as it is for me.

What helped with ours was having the practice at exactly the same time every day without fail and it not being very long. 10 minutes each day is much better than half an hour on Saturdays only.

NoLongerJustAShopGirl Mon 05-Jan-15 15:13:16

mine play the piano, don't practise as often as they should to improve for exam type stuff - but they play the piano often, tunes they like now they can play a bit (G4ish) so I am not toooooo bothered.

Though if I hear any more Harry Potter tunes or "the snowman" theme one more time I may accidentally break the piano.

18yearstooold Mon 05-Jan-15 15:19:29

Dd doesn't practise, ever

She has an individual lesson, string group, orchestra and Saturday school -she seems to think this is enough playing

She's progressing well and the teacher is happy with her so i'm not nagging

Fleurdelise Mon 05-Jan-15 15:26:17

My DD (7) is practising regularly without any argument but this is due to the fact that she likes routine. She started piano at 6 and two weeks into the practice routine (in the evening) she never questioned it or asked not to do it. I guess we are lucky with this love of routine.

I do need to sit next to her though to correct mistakes, give suggestions and we had some huge arguments on this in the past.

She is now going through a "I love piano" period and it is lovely to see her so committed. We need to drag her away from the piano after 30 min practice to continue with some other activities. I am sure it will not last very long though. :D

howtodrainyourflagon Tue 06-Jan-15 21:45:38

At school ds (9) has 40 mins scheduled practice every day so we allow things to slip a little at weekends and in the holidays when he might practice just one of his instruments. He's doing g5 this term so he needs about 20-30 mins on his first instrument and he'll probably get around this amount done.

dd (4) does 5-10 minutes a few evenings a week when she wants to. Sometimes I suggest it, but I don't mandate it (yet!) She'll have a little play on the violin or we'll play some games with the sopranino (which now has a taped-up thumbhole - thank you to the mner who suggested that).

gloriousparent Wed 07-Jan-15 15:22:02

IME, It is just not music, but even other academic fields, it is the parents who do initially oversee, guide, persuade and ignite interests in children upto a certain age. Once the children are self sufficient and understand their interests, they can then pursue it from there onwards.

Same applies to music.

BirdintheWings Sun 11-Jan-15 19:01:49

He'll practise guitar endlessly.

Shame it's not the instrument he's having paid-for lessons in.

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