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Parents: The Best Coaches and Cheerleaders! (part 1)

If your family is new to the Summit Academy of Music, you might think that your child's lesson day is the only day every week where s/he can receive guidance on playing the guitar, piano, bass, or whichever instrument s/he is learning. However, as the parent, you are your child's best coach and cheerleader!

Regular practice is the most important habit, and should be started as soon as possible. The first thing you'll want to do to encourage regular practice is to establish a routine. Perhaps you'll have a special lamp you turn on in the practice area, or a certain time of day that your child practices (as soon as the after school snack is finished, etc.). The key is to make it regular, so it's not a surprise and it's not negotiable.

Once practice is done, be sure to offer a small reward like a hug or a "you worked hard today!" The thing you want to avoid is using bribes or prizes. Keep it a simple, easy to replicate "feel good" moment.

Keeping a practice chart at home and setting goals like having your child beat his/her longest streak of consecutive practice days is a great way to encourage and develop a strong sense of self-discipline. This can work really well with students who are competitive, as it gets them to compete with themselves!

If there's a day where energy is low or your child is sick, they can still do short practice, rhythm drills, or listening exercises. If you're using the Suzuki books and CD's, sick days are a great time to put those CD's on repeat!

Speaking of those CD's, it's a great idea to listen to the music from the book your child is working on, as well as the CD's for future books, and other great music to give them something to look forward to. Ask your teacher for recommendations on other great music to play at home. Find ways to turn this music on while they're spending time in the car, doing homework, or playing. It can be used as "wallpaper music," played in the background, so it doesn't interfere with conversation. It's incredible how much we absorb when we're not even thinking about it!

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