I have a number of violin students who don’t practice. S__, a middle-schooler, is one of these students. She has played with me for about 4 years. She loves lessons, truly enjoys playing with others and even attends jams and camps regularly. But she rarely practices.
Yesterday I asked her how she would advise parents of new students about practicing. She went quiet and pondered the question thoughtfully for a few moments.
I have asked this question to many students over the years. The answer I anticipate is ‘Let the child decide if they want to practice’. But no student ever says that.
S__’s reply was consistent with responses of other non-practicing students — Encourage your child to practice, but don’t force them.
I sympathize with parents who want to avoid asking their child to practice. Life is stressful enough. The message I am getting from students, though, is that kids want their parents involved.
I ask these students “What if the child is of the non-compliant variety?” They say that parents should continue to encourage. The advice is the same from students who describe themselves as non-compliant.
Some parents have dialed practicing and homework routines down. They are not superhuman parents. They have simply figured out some strategies that work well. And once the routines are in place, the momentum of success works in their favor.
Having a music community with parents and students of all ages is an opportunity for newer parents to learn and practice skills from parents who have been around the block. It is one of the non-musical benefits I hope students receive from studying the violin.
Practice doesn’t make us perfect. But it certainly makes us better. In music and parenting.