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Do you force your kids to do instrument practice and/or not let them stop when they want to?

(54 Posts)
sunnydelight Mon 22-Sep-08 05:32:56

I'm not being as confrontational as the title suggests, honest, just curious.

I'm facinated at the number of conversations I've had with friends recently who seem to spend huge amounts of energy nagging reluctant kids to practice the piano or whatever. One perfectly pleasant woman won't let her 9 year old have anything to eat in the morning until he's done 20 minutes instrument practice, another trades minutes of practice time for minutes of tv/computer time. This kid has been begging for at least two years now to stop lessons but she won't let him as she feels it's good to play an instrument.

With three kids obviously I know how important it is to encourage "sticking at things", and I don't let my kids chop and change at a whim. Money spent on instruments is obviously also a factor. I do however wonder what is the point of insisting that kids continue with something that they really don't want to do. Surely "extra-curricular activities" should be something that kids enjoy doing, and a bit of a treat away from the usual school work, homework etc. What do you think?

arfishy Mon 22-Sep-08 05:59:35

DD is only 5 so not too much experience of this yet. I do have to bribe her to do violin practice. She wants to do cello soon so I'm telling her that she has to show she can stick with the violin before we'll do cello. I don't make her do practice daily though, once or twice a week.

If she tells me that she truly hates it at some point I'll let her give up at the end of the year.

She did tennis camp today for the first time and I was in two minds about getting a racquet for her in case it's a two minute wonder. I did anyway and I think she enjoyed it. We're not a particularly sporty family so I don't think I'd make her stick with a sport that she hated (memories of always being the last picked on any team).

SheSellsSeashellsByTheSeashore Mon 22-Sep-08 06:39:06

i dont know if bribiong means that they dont like it though does it? thugh i suppose begging for two years does.

my daughter does dancing atm she is back to being obsessed with dance class. she eats, sleeps and breathes dancing.

i am prepared to 'persuede' her to keep going to classes when this wears off as i let her leave last year and now she is upset that she is not as far on as what she was. she has no competition classes or troupes etc. she is just a normal new starter again. she probably wont be in the x mas show as much as she would have been either.

if it becomes clear that she hates it rather than she just cannot be bothered or would rather do something else that day then i will let her stop.

although with dd if she doesnt want to do something she does not do and no amount of bribery or persuesion will change her mind.

Freckle Mon 22-Sep-08 06:55:55

Well, I only really insist on practice where they have begged to learn the instrument and we have eventually paid out £000s on buying their own. I refuse to see that money go to waste.

Actually, DS1 is learning the saxophone (his request) and has opted for Music GCSE, so it's really important that he practice. He needed to have his own instrument so we took the money for it out of his building society account and have promised to pay it back when we are satisfied that he does sufficient practice. He is doing slightly more than before but not enough to warrant any refund so far.

roisin Mon 22-Sep-08 08:03:37

Do your dc learn an instrument sunnydelight?

Mastering an instrument is not easy for anyone, and basically comes through hard slog of practice. This is a shock to most children and is not something they would do 'naturally'. So generally they do need encouragement, cajolement, rules and routines, and threats!

If you are paying for music lessons and they are doing very little practice, you ay as well be burning £20 notes.

So yes, I do insist on regular practice.
If/when they want to stop learning I will allow them too (after a few weeks' cooling off/reflection in case it's a hasty decision).

AbbeyA Mon 22-Sep-08 08:15:57

It depends on how much they wanted to do it in the first place. If they begged to do it then I would give them a time scale of at least a term and say that they had to practise until then, but could then give it up if they still didn't want to put in the effort. This is because it is difficult to start with and they may enjoy it if they try.
If they are playing it because you wanted them to, I would let them give it up earlier.

sarah293 Mon 22-Sep-08 08:18:51

Message withdrawn

brimfull Mon 22-Sep-08 08:35:31

have just this minute written a cheque for dd's music lessons
for the yr . £211
she's 16 and still doesn't practice regularly unless she's rehearsing for a performance or exam.
we have also paid a fortune for flute

I don't nag her now but she did need reminding a lot when she was younger-glad we did it now as she's doing music A level and it's her favourite subject.

sarah293 Mon 22-Sep-08 08:43:08

Message withdrawn

AMumInScotland Mon 22-Sep-08 09:21:56

I think if, overall, they want to learn the instrument, then it's fine for a parent to encourage/nag/cajole/etc to get the practice done on a regular basis. But if a child has been begging for 2 years to be allowed to give it up, then I don't think that's going to change into them being keen to do it.

There's a difference between encouraging children to stick at things and put the effort in, and forcing them to do something that they have absolutely no motivation or wish to do.

With my DS, we asked every year or so whether he wanted to continue and whether he was happy with the instrument he was learning. If he'd really wanted to change or stop, then we'd have accepted that - though I guess we'd have suggested carrying on for a term first, to make sure it wasn't just a blip.

sunnydelight Mon 22-Sep-08 12:00:35

I'm qualified to teach piano rosin, so I know it doesn't come overnight, but I loved to play so didn't have to be nagged into it (and hours playing the piano counted as hours of revision for my leaving cert grin)

I guess the key thing is whether it was the parent or child's desire to learn in the first place. I'm gutted that neither of my boys have shown any interest in learning, but didn't see the point in forcing them into it when they wanted to do other stuff instead.

mumblechum Mon 22-Sep-08 12:12:59

Ds is a drummer. He puts his ipod speakers on, usually on a Saturday and Sunday morning and thrashes along to T Rex, The Verve, Arctic Monkeys etc.

I never try to make him play if he doesn't want to.

He had 18 months of lessons but even then just played when he felt like it. He's in a band so they get a fair bit of practice by their own choice.

silverbirch Mon 22-Sep-08 14:29:34

with my dd we agreed that I will only pay for lessons if she practices. Sometimes I do need to encourage her to practice, she doesn't always do it if not reminded - but she understands that ultimately it is her decision to have lessons or to stop. So I guess I do bribe her in a way - no practice = no lessons.

Bridie3 Mon 22-Sep-08 14:33:24

I'm the same: no practice; no lessons.

Also, with 'difficult' instruments like the piano the first four years or so can be hard work. If you can get them to work through the pain barrier they may end up with something very worthwhile. I think it's worth doing: if the child has a modicum of aptitude. My son has gone through periods of wanting to give up piano. But now he's getting some attention at school for his jazz, he's pleased he kept going. I'm pleased I made him.

If he'd been utterly unmusical, I'd have given up.

Seeline Mon 22-Sep-08 14:34:51

silver birch - I have a similar approach with my DS. He started piano at 5.6 - at his request, 18 mths ago. He is generally pretty good at practising most days. However, if we go through a lean patch I just mention the 'if you don;t practise, I'll stop lessons' and he soon gets going. He does actually enjoy it. He has recently started recorder at scholl, based on the same principle, although I did have to point out that he would need to continue piano practice too if he wanted to carry on learning that!

tortoiseshell Mon 22-Sep-08 14:35:08

Yes, my children practise every day. They don't have to be 'forced' to do it because they know it is the rule that if you do an instrument then you practise every day.

Ds1 (7) does 30 mins piano and 20-30 mins violin every night. He also does orchestra twice a week, and has a weekly lesson.

Dd (5) does about 10 mins cello every night.

There is virtually no point in learning if you don't practise every or nearly every night. If the child can't agree to this (obviously there are exceptions where you can't practise, but these should be exceptions and not the rule), then they should find a different activity.

I do sound militant, but this is because I am a musician and a piano teacher, and I KNOW that you need to put the hours in, and I have seen pupils who make lots of progress in the lessons, only to lose it all over the week because they don't go to the piano. It is disheartening for them and it is SO frustrating for the teacher!

Beetroot Mon 22-Sep-08 14:36:08

I have written this many times on MN

My kids are all pretty good musicians (not preening just fact)

When they were younger I opaid them to practice.

10p per practice adn £100 if they did 6 practices per week

Maybe I am lucky that they took to it.

Would not trade food or computer time.
Also school encourages practice in school time too.

Beetroot Mon 22-Sep-08 14:37:25

£1 not £100

tortoiseshell Mon 22-Sep-08 14:37:57

lol at your £100 beety!

Beetroot Mon 22-Sep-08 14:39:24

I don't have to do it now as they are so far ensconced it is jsut part of who they are.

TheDullWitch Mon 22-Sep-08 14:41:50

I have to nag my ds aged 10 to do his guitar. Have told him I will end his lessons after Xmas if he doesn t do it without being reminded. I'm hoping for that moment, Beetroot describes where they practice because it s who they are. But still waiting..

frankbestfriend Mon 22-Sep-08 14:45:01

Yes I do have to nag dd to practice her clarinet, but she does not want to give up her lessons, she just doesn't like practicing at home.

If she told me she didn't want to play anymore I would let her stop. And I only make her do 10 minutes practice each evening.

Bridie3 Mon 22-Sep-08 15:16:23

To my shame we only do about 12-15 minutes a day on each instrument; more, obviously, when there are exams around. I'd rather they did 12 intensely focused minutes than 30 grudging ones.

Ideally it would be 30 intense minutes.

tortoiseshell Mon 22-Sep-08 15:53:25

beety - once it's routine then it's not a problem - same with ds1, he just does it now, he knows that after tea is practice time, and you're right, it's part of him.

Atm dd is VERY keen and practises the cello whenever she can. But I'm sure that is 'just started enthusiasm'. Otoh, she sees ds1 practising, and me and dh practising so she may just accept that this is what we do.

jicky Mon 22-Sep-08 16:17:07

One of the reasons ds1 learns the piano is to realise that things don't always come without hard work. At school he finds it very easy to do things so they are 'good enough' and they rarely make him redo stuff to make it neater for example. With piano his teacher doesn't move on until the piece is near perfect - so he is learning that 'good enough' isn't always OK and sometimes hard work is necessary.

He does enjoy the piano and is hoping to add recorder and guitar, but this is on the understanding that the practise happens without too much ranting on my part.

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