Learning how to play the guitar doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of time, patience and of course, constant practice to be able to learn and master this musical instrument. So if your child dreams to become a good guitarist someday, you might need to give a fair share of motivation to help make this dream come true.
Now the question is, what do they do if they don’t seem to practice very much? How can you encourage them to keep trying?
In this article, we reached out to experts and parents alike to determine the best ways to motivate your child to play guitar.
How to motivate your child to learn more about the guitar
A lot of parents get excited once their child shows some interest in guitar, and immediately look for ways to help their children become better.
What many parents tend to overlook is how to reinforce their child’s initial interest to the instrument – to draw it out and amplify it. Once this interest sparks and grows into a goal that they believe they will achieve, the rest will tend to follow – as long as they have fun along the way.
Here are some ways on how to motivate your child to learn more about the guitar:
Be a role model
Children are great imitators. They’re more likely to follow what they see you’re doing, than to follow what you’re telling. So being a role model can be a good start in encouraging your child to get really interested in the guitar.
Most of the time, children get interested with playing an instrument because they see one or both of their parents are also playing. If you’re a guitar player yourself, it would help if your child regularly sees you practicing, and more so, while you’re performing. Your child looking up to you as a role model is one of the best goals that he or she can ever have and something that can silently trigger their inner interest to practice on their own.
Listen to music regularly
Regular exposure to music will not only spark your child’s inner musician but will also give him a good vocabulary of the songs that he can use to play a piece in the future. Play songs from the 60’s to 00’s and give equal opportunities for every era to be heard.
Additionally, make a playlist of their favorite songs. If you can learn to play them yourself, even better!
Bring them to concerts
Your child would love to see what it takes to become a live performer. So whenever you get the chance, bring your child to a live concert. For children, it would be best to start with concerts performed at daylight in open spaces where they can still freely roam around, play and be kids.
In other words… don’t bring your children into Metallica pits. Yes, I’ve seen it happen!
Watching the bands performing at festivals can be a great idea. Once they get a bit older, perhaps around 10 to 12 years old, you can even take them to a live concert of their favorite band.
Or if the band is performing in a seated venue, take them even earlier.
Let them discover their music interests.
Does your child frequently listen to acoustic or heavy rock music? Is she interested in pop or classics? No matter which genre of music they enjoy most, it is important to support them along the way. This will not only motivate them to practice the guitar, but also to encourage them in doing something that they really love and enjoy.
This is about developing their own musical tastes – even if they differ from yours.
As they say, work on something that you love and you’ll never see it as a job or a chore.
Enroll them into guitar lessons
A great way to convert your child’s interest into action is through formal training. Enrolling them into guitar lessons will instill the basic skills that they will need to start playing and continue practicing these skills at home.
Also, a guitar teacher can properly guide young learners towards improving their guitar skills by knowing their strengths, working on their weaknesses and giving a practice schedule that will work best for them.
A guitar class may also offer an opportunity to meet fellow kids that are also playing the guitar. Having peers with same interests is an excellent source of motivation.
How to motivate your child to practice the guitar at home
Once your child becomes enthusiastic about learning the guitar (and they begin their guitar lessons), you may supplement this interest with motivational activities at home. By doing so, you can help bring in the mindset to practice even if there is no instructor watching over him. Here are some tips on how to do it:
Be involved in their guitar lessons
If you want to really motivate your child to practice the guitar, you have to be actively involved in the learning process. If you have some spare time, consider sitting in your child’s guitar lessons once in a while. This way, you can see your child’s progress across time and will know which areas would need additional practice at home.
It would also help to collaborate with his guitar teacher for his practice schedule at home. Know how often your child needs to practice and how long per day it is recommended to be done.
Guide them in setting realistic goals
Oftentimes, young children tend to get lazy over something that they do because the results doesn’t match their expectations.
The same goes with practicing the guitar. Children can get bored practicing and waiting for weeks to become really good at their chosen instrument, when in reality, mastering the guitar takes years and lifelong practice to become a real virtuoso.
Here’s when setting realistic goals will come into picture. If your child has an achievable goal in mind, it will more or less inspire him to set another goal, and do more to achieve it. Hence, as a parent, it will be helpful to guide him in setting the goals that can actually be achieved in a short period of time.
For instance, you may advice that for this month, he could put up mastering the fundamentals as a goal. This is a lot more achievable than aiming to play a really hard piece for the first month.
As your child continues to learn and practice, you can gradually shift to a more challenging goal. The key here is to aim first for the ones that are possible to achieve in a short span of time.
Allot a private space where they can practice
Create an area of your home where your child can freely practice at his or her convenience and make sure that it is ready to access all the time. You may set up a practice space in your child’s room, where he or she can easily run a tune upon waking up or right before bedtime.
It doesn’t need to be a whole studio at first. For starters, you may begin with the following:
- a nice guitar
- an armless stool that is sized just right for your child
- a durable guitar stand
- a music stand
- a side table to keep the other materials used for practicing like guitar picks, tuners, notepads and pencils
- a guitar footstool, particularly if practicing with an acoustic guitar.
With everything within arms reach, your child will be more eager to practice whenever he likes. It removes the friction between ‘wanting to play’ and actually starting.
This is the same reason I have guitars scattered all throughout my house, hahaha.
Do not force them to practice longer
Usually, it will be fine for a child to practice once or twice a day for around 5 to 10 minutes. Length is less important than consistency. It would be a lot better for your child to have short practice periods regularly, than to go for a whole day of exhausting practice at a single day. This will keep them engaged and enjoy practice periods rather than feeling like it is a chore or a punishment for not doing very well.
Reinforce positive behavior with rewards
Aside from the words of encouragement, you can also impart small rewards to encourage your child to be diligent in their practice time. It could be as simple as cooking their favorite meal at weekend and buying them some sweet treats, or buying a guitar accessory that they really like.
Let them perform in family gatherings
Another great way to motivate your child is to encourage them to perform in front of other people. Small family gatherings would be a good start.
It doesn’t have to be a flawless performance, such that your child would stress out practicing just to please everyone. Just tell your child to share to them what he’s been practicing, or play a sample of a piece he has learned from his guitar class. This experience will surely motivate them in the long run!
The key is to create a relaxed environment, eliminate all pressure, and praise them heavily – particularly focusing on the effort behind the performance, rather than just focusing on the skill.
So there you have it! These tips are sure to motivate any young musician. What pride and joy for a parent to see his child enjoying and expressing himself in his chosen musical instrument!
However, keep in mind that if things don’t work out or they simply no longer wish to play, you should respect these wishes. If your son or daughter feels like guitar is no longer for them and they would like to shift to another instrument or completely stop taking lessons, then so be it. Just keep in mind that playing the guitar is not a task to be imposed, rather, something that your child should love and enjoy doing for years to come.