How do I motivate my child to practice?

This weeks question comes from a concerned parent and is a worry we know is shared by many other parents.

When my daughter began guitar 2 years ago she practiced every day and improved quickly. Now she rarely practices and I am concerned that all the hard work will be lost. I know she still enjoys playing, what can I do to motivate her to practice more?

Our reply:

This is a very common issue and not something particular to your daughter. Many students go through dips in their practice routines and with a little guidance can get back on track. The key is to understand the reasons why practice has tailed of and to find reasons which will make her want to practice more in future.

One of your comments is interesting and I think reflects more on you than your daughter. You say “she rarely practices” which would seem to indicate that you measure practice success by the amount of time your daughter spends practising. I would encourage you to ignore the amount of time she spends playing and instead focus on the quality of work she is doing. On a positive note you say she still enjoys practising which is very good and will make the job of rekindling her practice easier.

Below we have listed a number of ideas for you to try, read them all and decide which would be best suited to your daughter.

Be Encouraging.

Try to always encourage your child. Make sure that when they do practice you offer good remarks and comments. Try to see the best in what they are doing and do not give any unnecessary criticism. A bad choice of words here can do more harm than good. Make a special point of not complaining about the lack of practice – this will only make things worse. Also look at our A Few Good Words method.

Speak to Teacher.

Make sure you speak to your daughter’s teacher and understand what it is they are asking your child to do. Be persistent here and ensure that you are clear on what the child is being asked to do, why they need to do it and by when. This way you will be best placed to help your daughter.

Attend a Lesson.

A stage on from communicating with your daughter’s teacher is to actually attend a lesson. We’re not suggesting that you attend all lessons but most teachers will be happy for you to attend the occaisional one. By attending a lesson you will get a much better feel of what happens, what is discussed and what is expected.

A place for practice.

If possible try to set aside a place for your daughter to practice. Having an area dedicated to practice can be an enormous help. The practice area should ideally be free from distraction and allow your daughter to leave her instrument and music out and ready for practice.

Informal Concert

A way to encourage practice is to arrange an informal concert for friends and family where your daughter could perform. As well as the practice you can arrange tickets/food and other items to go with the concert. Read Concert Goer for more.

Supply Teacher

Practice is actually a very good way to spend some quality time with your daughter. Even if you are not musical you can take an active part in your daughters practice. Use the tasks set by their teacher as a guide for a practice session. Sit with them while they practice. Listen carefully, never criticise and use lots of praise. Allow your daughter to decide where and what is wrong and how she should practice. Try to make it enjoyable for you both – allow mistakes to be made and laugh or enjoy them when they do happen.

Set goals

Speak to your daughter about what it is she would really like to do on her guitar. Find out what music she likes, which players and which concerts. Write these down and stick them to the fridge! They will serve as constant encouragement to her.

Read the motivation methods

There are many different ways of finding motivation to practice. Use the motivation section of this site to find lots of ideas.
We hope these ideas get you started on the right track with helping to motivate your daughter. Let us know which of these work for you. If you find anything else that works then please let us know, we’re always open to new ideas.

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