During my years of teaching time and time again, I hear a similar phrase at the end of the lesson
…We’ve really got to get you to practice more! You’re never picking up your guitar…
The pupils’ always react the same…the look of frustration and guilt…oh no…not again…
Now I’m not just a guitar tutor I’m also a parent of two children, and with everything going on at home, organising lessons, etc. I know how difficult it can be to remind them to do anything! Just the past few weeks my son has just started taekwondo, and although he loves sitting and listening to songs relating to Taekwondo, if I ask him to have a practice at his stance, we don’t get anywhere, he does one of two things:
- Is too shy to show me what he’s done – even though I was there in his lesson
- Is distracted by whatever’s on the television
- Just doesn’t feel like it…
So, that makes me think…does he like it, does he want to do it, should I continue paying out the monthly bill to keep it going…Is it worth it?
So I thought…is there a way of making the frustration of a child not practising fun. Well, of course there is! As comedian James Veitch said in his Ted Talk a few years ago:
Let frustration become the catalyst for Whimsy [fun]
So, to that end, I’ve created this parents guide that can provide guitar specific suggestions that might help increase your chance to either know what they think about guitar and also reduce the stress on you and also get them to practice slightly more!
So your child isn’t getting the guitar out…well, why don’t you?. One thing I’ve done with pupils is giving them a reply, using the guitar. If they start asking you a question such as:
Muuuuummmmm when’s fooooddd readddyyyyyy
Strum the rhythm of your response on the guitar!
To create your rhythm, just take the syllables of the words you’re trying to say, and strum down across the strings
You don’t have to use any chords or even think about how you strum, just strike as many of the strings in rhythm…and speak it out loud!.
Having you play the guitar rather than them can often mean their reply will be:
“That’s my guitar, not yours…” All you then need to say is:
“It’s Your Turn…”
Ask them a question, and let them reply to you on the guitar! It’s random and silly and doesn’t feel like practising, but they are. It gets the used to creating different rhythms on guitar, and it helps them to work out how to create a beat of their own which will help them a lot in the long run!
Ask your child to teach you something, get the guitar out, and hold it upside down or backward, even better purchase a cheap guitar off of amazon:
An alternative, if you’re a parent of a pupil of mine, then you can rent a guitar off of me for 50p a week. Then you can learn together.
Getting them to show you, (even if it’s not with their guitar) will help them remember things too. On purposely make errors and mistakes! You’d be surprised how much they remember! For them, it’s a way of bossing your around for a change, and they’ll finally be picking up their guitar and at least showing you something (or telling you).
The most important thing to remember is not to get stressed out with them. In an ideal world, every student will practice every day. The honest truth – which all good music teachers will know is they won’t practice at all. Unless they find something that gets them motivated. If you want a reply, just be inquisitive…phrases your questions more in the realms of:
I heard that insert teachers name here taught you _____ today? What is that/does that mean? Can you show me?
If they say no don’t worry about it. All students will get to the point where they’ll want to practice – and at the early stages of learning an instrument it’s less likely, there are so many distractions. The one thing I remind parents (and myself…) every day is that:
Each lesson they still walk away better than they were before!