SENDING YOUR CHILD TO LESSONS: SETTING EXPECTATIONS
A big area of concern is from parents who fund their kids music lessons. They get upset when they don't see their kids practice or improve, at least not fast enough for their expectations.
We all want students to improve. Most won't enjoy playing if they don't but kids are not a set and forget appliance with a long battery life and an automatic timer.
It will feel like wasted money paying for music lessons if the kid doesn't practice but that isn't quite the whole picture.
Parents must set up some kind of education in accountability for their kids to prepare them for making the most of any opportunity to develop a worthwhile hobby or skill.
Accountability has to align with reality.
Making sure kids have time to practice is important.
Routines are important. All learning disciplines needs this.
Practice has to be consistent whether we are happy, sad, busy, feeling lazy, have visitors, have schoolwork to complete or not. Excuses we all know about and we don't want to make them a habit.
Think about these situations.
#1A kid has 6 activities on every week and homework from school. That's super busy.
When is there time for daily practice?
Reality check: Parents need to limit activities to a point that the kids are not constantly in motion. Perhaps 2 activities outside of school is plenty for most people.
#2 A kid has massive breaks from an activity because the family takes a long vacation, or misses lessons often through various disruptions. The kid loses both routine & momentum to practice.
Reality check:Is it possible to access an instrument during the trip? (a smaller portable one?)
Could missed lessons be rescheduled?
#3 A kid with free access to t.v., computer, games, toys but has few boundaries set has a bewildering choice.
Reality check:Could eliminating at least some of these choices helps to steer a kid into more desirable choices?
My parents did. Strict bedtimes and stay in your room but in your room you have only 2 accessible choices- reading or playing music.
Has the parent actually discussed expectations to practice with the child?
Is the child clear about what is expected and what are the consequences of not meeting the terms ?
Reality check: Have this discussion early. Have this discussion regularly. Be fair about what you expect from a kid. A kid is not a professional who might spend 5 hours practicing daily.
What could you realistically expect and achieve?
An expectation can be very specific.
'If I pay for these lessons I need to see you spend a minimum of 20 minutes daily on playing.'
'I want you to perform a song at Christmas, Mum's birthday and send a video of you playing to Grandma.'
'I want you to be a good librarian and collector for your music sheets'.
'If I don't see you practice regularly and get some tunes sounding good, I'm going to stop lessons and use that money to take mum to Hawaii. You'll have to stay with grandma.'
'I want you to teach me how to play some tunes.'
Sometimes parents send kids to lessons without any real expectation that they will get much from it at all. If the money doesn't bother you they will at least get an experience.
They always learn something, and it's not always about what you planned.
Sometimes they learn a little and later, even much later, they start back at it with more intent and more success than ever.
Most education is about planting seeds and the harvest of a dormant crop can come much later.
If money is an issue then you should for your family's sake meter it out with the greatest care as to how well it is appreciated because skills like money are sometimes quite hard to come by.
A parent's job has plenty of tough moments and how to set a steady course in a storm requires all the patience and skill in the world. We don't want to destroy the fun of a hobby by turning it into a job and yet the real fun and excitement comes from putting the work in so that growth happens.
It is a paradox.
Best of luck.