What You Should Do Once Lessons Have Begun

Your child's teacher should clarify things like how often and how long your child should practice, as well as practical things like payment schedules and no-show policies. If not, ask! (You may find some useful suggestions in A Guide to Great Home Music Practice.)

If you are considering Suzuki lessons, or starting a very young child, be aware that you will be expected to actively participate in your child's daily practices. No musical knowledge is required on your part, just time. Once children are a little older, most methods only require you to make sure that your child does practice. You are the best judge of how to do this; whether incentives, reminders, or regular schedules are the way to go varies from one child to the next. Remember that keeping to the teacher's suggested practice schedule is very important. Nobody can learn to play an instrument well if they play only once or twice a week; if this is what is happening, there is not much the teacher will be able to do to help your child improve.

You don't need to complement every sound that comes from your child's instrument, but do try to be encouraging, especially when you do hear something you like. It is the teacher's job, not yours, to listen critically. Be aware that many children who happily accept helpful criticism from a teacher may expect parents (even those knowledgeable about music) to take an encouraging rather than a critical role, and will not respond well to suggestions from you.
Don't be afraid to discuss potential problems with the teacher, especially if your child can't or won't. Most children will have some resistance to practicing and some "performance anxiety" about lessons. But it is not normal for practice time to be miserable or for your child to be terrified of the teacher; if this is the case, insist on some changes or find a different teacher or even a different instrument. Music lessons can and should be an introduction to a lifelong enjoyment of music.

      -Schmidt-Jones, C.  A Parents' Guide to Music Lessons, Connexions Web site.
        http://cnx.org/content/m11640/1.11/,  Jan 18, 2013.

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