Friday, January 14, 2011

“How do I get my child to practice?”

While some children will practice everyday without any prompting many parents know that getting their child to practice is at times a challenge. In many cases if you leave it up your child to decide when they should practice you are likely to be disappointed when they guitar becomes largely neglected. Forcing your child to practice is not the best solution because if you threaten your child with punishment if they don't practice then they will learn to associate fear with learning music. Fear is not a good long term strategy. At times adults who were forced to practice music as a child will sometimes say they gave up music the minute they left home or worse became very unhappy professional musicians. These adults often have bitter memories of learning music.

So what's the answer? The good news is there is a positive solution. Here are my top tips for parents.

Realistic expectations. Many children think learning guitar is all fun and no hard work. Dispelling this myth from the outset will set realistic expectations. Set the rules from the very beginning. Write them down and get them to sign the agreement. E.g. 10 minutes a day practice for 1 year.
Parent involvement. Parents who leave it totally up to their child will usually be disappointed. Getting involved encourages practice because all children seek parental attention. At first sit with them everyday. Even better try learning with them. Overtime you can gradually back away.
Consistency. Set a time each day for practice and stick to it. E.g. 5 pm each weekday. If their routine is broken try to get back on track asap.
Make it a game. When they are doing a particular exercise make a game out of it. Clap along. Sing along. Point to notes and ask them the names of notes.
Monitor progress. If they know you are cheering them on they are more likely to want to practice. Children love to impress their parents but to impress you they need to see that their achievements matter to you. Applaud even the smallest of achievements.
Reward behaviour over results. The behaviour we seek is simply daily practice. Try not to focus on results too much. Rewarding them for practicing will encourage more practice. If its all about results children are more likely to give up before they get a result.
Communicate with their teacher. We work with children and parents everyday. I (David Hart) have personally been involved in teaching guitar for over 20 years. I have learnt mostly from watching how parents work with their children. Your child's success depends on you.
Focus on the positive. Its best to look at what they are doing well and highlight the fact. E.g. "I can't believe you have done 3 hours of practice this week. Isn't that a new record?"
Focus on practice. - Remember its the habit of practice we want to cultivate. Studies show that results come ultimately to those who practice the most and who find practice a positive experience.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact myself directly by emailing

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Why measuring progess is critical for your child's success on guitar

Children (like most adults) want to succeed at what they do. They do not want to appear to fail but sometimes success can seem elusive or just not worth the effort. Basically they lose their confidence to succeed.

Success on guitar can only be achieved if the student perceives some kind of progress. This perception of a  progress comes from having some kind of measuring system. The G4 GUITAR METHOD provides that measurement system. Of course students need to be moving forward to actually progress and this can only come from practice but more importantly the right practice. Doing the right practice happens as a combination through a combination lessons and monitoring their practice. For most children there is one very critical almost make or break factor that ensures the right practice will occur. PARENTS. 

Children need to be coached into doing the right kind of practice. Parental support is the magic ingredient. Young children are often not self disciplined enough to sit down and focus for 20 minutes of practice a day. They need help in establishing the routine and also help understanding the material. For teachers 30 minutes a week is only enough time to guide them in the right direction and check on progress. Teachers simply can't make students practice with weekly lessons. Only daily lessons could provide such a result. 

The teacher's responsibility is to inform parents of what needs to happen at home.
Children go to school six hours a day so school teachers have more time to monitor children as they learn. In the case of weekly music lessons parents need to do that work at home. At G4 GUITAR our best young students are the ones whose parents sit in on lessons from time to time, regularly check in with the teacher, check their child's practice log each day or better still help them with their practice, ask questions and read our blogs. We also have many parents who learn with G4 GUITAR and this is without a doubt a winning combination. Basically the more involved you are the better your child will do.

If you have any questions please feel free to email myself directly at