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Overcoming Practice Hurdles 2: Addressing Schoolwork Overload and Lack of Motivation

A ginger tabby cat with classes on sitting in front of an book book

Encouraging a child to consistently practice their musical instrument can be challenging, but understanding and tackling the common practice excuses can pave the way for a more productive and enjoyable musical journey. In this three-part blog series, we will explore various reasons children often give for avoiding practice and offer strategies to help parents navigate them effectively. In this second installment, we will delve into the challenges of schoolwork overload and lack of motivation, providing insights and practical tips to overcome these hurdles.

I Have Too Much Schoolwork

The demands of schoolwork present a genuine obstacle to consistent practice, particularly during intense academic periods. However, this reason can also become a frequent fallback, hindering progress in a child's musical journey. To address this, effective scheduling of practice time is crucial. As mentioned in the previous post, incorporating practice sessions into a calendar and setting reminders can ensure that dedicated practice remains a priority.

Additionally, communication with the child's teacher is vital. Inform them about the child's study schedule and work together to find a balanced approach that allows for both focused study time and regular musical practice. During study sessions, encourage the child to view their instrument as a brain break. They don't necessarily have to engage in structured practice; playing familiar tunes or exploring their instrument can be a refreshing break, stimulating different brain areas and enhancing their learning experience.

I Don’t Feel Like It

Parents commonly struggle to motivate children to practice, especially when they lack intrinsic motivation. It's important to acknowledge that building intrinsic motivation takes time, patience, and consistent effort. While we aspire for our children to genuinely enjoy and embrace their musical journey, sometimes external incentives can serve as stepping stones.

Using extrinsic motivation, such as rewards or treats, can be helpful. Encourage the child by setting achievable goals and offering rewards for their accomplishments. However, the key is to shift the focus from the reward to the effort and growth that led to it. Emphasize the process, highlighting the hard work, determination, and progress they made to earn the bonus. This reframing helps children understand the value of their efforts, paving the way for transitioning from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation.

In this second part of our three-part series, we've addressed two common practice excuses - schoolwork overload and lack of motivation. By effectively scheduling practice time and using extrinsic motivation strategically, parents can guide their children to navigate these challenges and establish a consistent practice routine. Stay tuned for the next installment, where we will tackle two more practice excuses and provide practical tips for managing them effectively, fostering a love for music in young hearts.

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