My musical career didn’t start on the violin. When I was very young, I played piano. The piano is a great instrument, but I was never really attached to it. I attended lessons because my mom made me, but when she tried to get me to practice, I was completely opposed. I didn’t start willingly practicing on my own until I was 12, and even then I do not think I would have been as invested in music if I hadn’t switched from piano to the violin.
Many parents at UCM struggle with the same challenge my mom faced: Their kids don’t want to practice. This is common, even in kids who enjoy going to lessons. They will play for their teacher at school but, at home, picking up the guitar or sitting down at the piano becomes a fight every time. If the stress of getting your child to practice has you considering taking them out of lessons altogether, know that it’s okay if they just focus on their lessons.
Practicing at home is important for improvement — our students only get around 48 lessons a year — but learning a little is better than learning nothing at all. Keep in mind that everyone learns at a different pace. Musical instruments take a lot of time to master, but being able to commit to lessons is the first step in mastering an instrument.
There are a lot of statistics about how playing music is great for a child’s overall development, and, of course, musical ability looks great on college applications. The most important thing is whether or not a child enjoys making music. When a student isn’t interested or they’re not having fun, you can hear it in when they play and see it in their stalled progress.
It is so important for musicians feel a connection to their music. This is especially true in kids who are just starting to learn how to play. At UCM, our teachers work hard to help their students feel passionate about music. We utilize the Musical Ladder System® to help students see their own progress and put on recitals to help them stay motivated. If students start to lose interest, sometimes a different teacher — or even a different instrument — can spark their interest again, like when I switched from piano to violin.
Sometimes, the best thing for a student to do is walk away from music and try something different. It’s okay; music isn’t for everyone. And if a student decides to come back, a break can reignite their interest in music like never before. We’ve seen it.
When I was in college, I stopped playing the violin for six months. I was going through a lot of changes in my life. I needed a break. That was a very bad idea, but it
was the first time in my life I was able to stop playing. When I picked it up again, because I realized I couldn’t live without it, I started playing because I wanted to. It was the first time I really had a choice, and my love for music grew even more when I came back.
If you’re worried that your child is losing interest in music, or you’re struggling with home practices, feel free to talk to your child’s teacher and get advice. They were all musical novices at one point in time, and they’ll be able to help come up with the right move for your child’s musical journey.