In every long-distance race I have run, there are always people yelling encouraging words along the way. “You got this!” “You can do it!”
Depending on the level of exhaustion I’m feeling, inside I’m feeling irritation towards these well-meaning bystanders. Just how do you know I can do this? Where is your confidence in me coming from? Can’t you see that I’m about to throw up?
There are also those volunteers who run alongside with water allowing you to not break your stride. Most of that water is spilled in the hand-off. And, bless them, they pick up the Dixie cup that I toss on the ground.
Without a word spoken, that act of encouragement always leaves me feeling more determined to make it to the finish line.
Children want encouragement to practice. Even non-compliant kids want to be encouraged. But encouragement is more than words.
Encouragement involves a combination of words, time and action.
Here are some examples of encouragement that parents give violin students:
Paying for music lessons.
Transporting your child to lessons.
Renting and buying an instrument for your child.
Repairing instrument problems quickly.
Creating regular practice time slots free of distraction and competition for attention.
Providing positive consequences for effort and accomplishment.
Sitting in on the violin lesson with your child.
Playing an instrument you already know alongside your child.
Learning a new instrument to play alongside your child.
Helping your child understand and focus on the teacher’s notes.
Helping your child practice efficiently (so they can finish sooner and get outside).
Attending musical events with your child.
Giving your child opportunities to do music camps.
Relaxing with your child and listening to music (e.g. Spotify, CDs, Pandora)
Giving feedback in response to the student’s playing and practicing.
Making musical collaborations with friends happen.
Some of these examples of encouragement take more time or money than is available. Kids understand we can’t do it all.
But we all appreciate those moments when someone runs alongside us as a gesture of support, even if the result is a Dixie cup of water that is mostly spilled.